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article imageTexas Executes Child Killer with Low I.Q.

By Chris Dade     Dec 4, 2009 in Crime
A 44-year-old man who raped and murdered his then girlfriend's 11-year-old daughter was yesterday put to death in Texas by lethal injection, despite lingering doubts regarding his I.Q. and therefore the propriety of his execution.
It was on April 30 1997 that Bobby Wayne Woods abducted 11-year-old Sarah Patterson and her 9-year-old brother Cody from their home in Granbury, near Forth Worth, Texas.
As the Star-Telegram reports having choked and beaten the young boy until he was unconscious Woods then left him to die in the cemetery where he had taken the two children.
But Cody did not die, indeed The Financial confirms that he lived and gave evidence against Woods when a trial was held in Llano, Hill County in the spring of 1998.
However Cody's sister was not so fortunate. Two days after her abduction the man eventually found guilty of her murder, Woods was also convicted of attempted capital murder, having been identified as a suspect in the children's abduction, led the authorities to her body, which was hidden in dense bush near a lake. Sarah's throat had been slit and there was evidence of a sexual assault. Subsequently it was found that the young girl had been raped.
After Woods was convicted and sentenced to death, the children's mother Schwana Patterson was then put on trial, accused of failing to protect her children by not notifying the authorities that she believed Woods, who was no longer living with Ms Patterson and her children, had abducted her son and daughter.
Upon her conviction Schwana Patterson, she claimed that she was asleep whilst her children were being abducted and did not hear their screams, was sentenced to 23 years in prison, a sentence later reduced to eight years. She was released on parole in 2005 and has since remarried.
According to the Guardian Ms Patterson's conviction meant she could not attend the execution of her former boyfriend at the state prison in Huntsville. However the Star-Telegram quotes a prison spokeswoman as saying that Ms Patterson had not asked to attend the execution and had been given incorrect information regarding her right to be in attendance as the man who constantly changed his story regarding his involvement in the kidnapping of her children and the death of her daughter was given a lethal injection.
But if the arguments presented over the years by the lawyers representing Bobby Wayne Woods, that their client had sufficient mental impairment to make his death sentence inconsistent with a U.S. Supreme Court ruling made in 2002, had been accepted there would have been no execution to witness.
The Supreme Court ruling had stated that death sentences should not be carried out on those who had a mental impairment. Yet it gave no clear indication on what precise level of intelligence defined a person as mentally impaired, merely saying that an I.Q. score "around 70" was an indication of impairment. Furthermore it let state courts decide for themselves who they considered to be intelligent enough to die.
And leaving the matter up to the state courts to decide has, says the New York Times, seen courts in Alabama, Mississippi and Texas rule that those with an I.Q. of 66 are not suffering from mental impairment, whilst a Californian court has ruled that an inmate with an I.Q. of 84 is suffering an impairment.
With regard to Bobby Wayne Woods, tests conducted since his arrest and conviction have indicated an I.Q. in the range 68-70. On the other hand, tests conducted when he was a child saw him register scores of 78, 80 and even as high as 86. The Financial and New York Times note too that Woods dropped out of school in seventh grade and was known to be virtually illiterate.
Ultimately the U.S. Supreme Court seemed to accept the case presented by Texas attorney general, Greg Abbott, that the most recent tests carried out on Woods were perhaps not entirely accurate as they were conducted by an expert working for the defense team and the condemned man had quite possibly "underperformed".
With the Supreme Court ruling against him, the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles had in October lifted a reprieve granted in 2008 and this week rejected a clemency request, the fate of Woods was sealed.
At 6:40 p.m. on Thursday, some 30 minutes after the Supreme Court ruled against him, he spoke his last words, "Bye. I am ready”, and at 6:48 his death was confirmed.
University of Texas law professor Maurie Levin represented the executed man, the 24th person to be put to death by the state of Texas in 2009 and the 447th person to be executed since Texas reinstated the death penalty in 1976, and she had insisted that her client was "transparently childlike and simple" and called his execution "a travesty".
Richard Hattox, the District Attorney who prosecuted Woods, disagrees with Ms Levin's assessment.
Now in private practice, Mr Hattox, who was a witness at the execution of Woods, confirmed that in the 18 years he served as Hood County District Attorney he only ever pursued one death penalty case, the one he saw finally concluded on Thursday evening. Furthermore he believes that Woods himself ensured that nobody could seriously consider him to be mentally impaired, saying:Woods testified, and the jury watched him reason and think and debate with me and his own lawyers. If he was going to claim mental retardation, having him testify was a mistake, because that took away any doubt. But that was his choice; you can’t blame that on his counsel
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