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Killer of Texas police snitch set to die Tuesday

Posted: August 7, 2012 12:00 p.m.
Updated: August 7, 2012 12:00 p.m.
 

HUNTSVILLE, Texas (AP) — A death row inmate scheduled to die later Tuesday for the killing of a police informant 20 years ago is hoping the U.S. Supreme Court agrees with his attorneys that he's too mentally impaired to qualify for execution.

Marvin Wilson, 54, should be spared under high court rulings that prohibit execution of the mentally impaired, his lawyers argue in an appeal the justices were considering. State attorneys said the mental impairment claim was based on a single IQ test from 2004 that may have been faulty and could not be supported by other tests and assessments of Wilson over the years.

His lethal injection would be the seventh in Texas this year.

Wilson was convicted of murdering 21-year-old Jerry Williams in November 1992, several days after police seized 24 grams of cocaine from Wilson's apartment and arrested him. Witnesses testified that Wilson and another man, Andrew Lewis, beat Williams outside of a convenience store in Beaumont, about 80 miles east of Houston. Wilson, who was free on bond, accused Williams of snitching on him about the drugs, they said.

Witnesses said the Wilson and Lewis then abducted Williams, and neighborhood residents said they heard a gunshot a short time later. Williams was found dead on the side of a road the next day, wearing only socks. He had been severely beaten and shot in the head and neck at close range.

Wilson was arrested the next day when he reported to his parole officer on a robbery conviction for which he served less than four years of a 20-year prison sentence. It was the second time he had been sent to prison for robbery.

At Wilson's capital murder trial, Lewis' wife testified Wilson confessed to the killing in front of her, her husband and his own wife.

"Don't be mad at Andrew because Andrew did not do it," Lewis' wife said Wilson told them. "I did it."

Lewis received a life prison term for his involvement.

In his appeal before the Supreme Court, Wilson's lawyers said the 61 he scored on the IQ test pegged him below the 70 threshold for mental impairment. Lead lawyer Lee Kovarsky said Wilson's language and math skills "never progressed beyond an elementary school level," that he reads and writes below a second-grade level, and that he was unable to manage his finances, pay bills or hold down a job.

State attorneys argued the 61 IQ score was one of a number of other test results and assessments.

Edward Marshall, a Texas assistant attorney general, said records showed Wilson habitually gave less than full effort and "was manipulative and deceitful when it suited his interest" and that the state considered adaptive behavior as well as intellectual impairment in making its determinations.

"Considering Wilson's drug-dealing, street-gambler, criminal lifestyle since an early age, he was obviously competent at managing money, and not having a 9-to-5 job is no critical failure," Marshall said. "Wilson created schemes using a decoy to screen his thefts, hustled for jobs in the community, and orchestrated the execution of the snitch, demonstrating inventiveness, drive and leadership."

Wilson's lawyers also argued that additional DNA tests should be conducted on a gray hair from someone white that was found on Williams' body, suggesting someone else killed him. Wilson, Williams and Lewis are black.

Ed Shettle, the Jefferson County assistant district attorney who prosecuted Wilson, dismissed the theory of another killer as a "red herring."

"There was some testimony Marvin said: 'We're going to show you what happens to snitches around here,'" Shettle said.

At least seven other prisoners in the nation's most active death penalty state have execution dates in the coming months, including one later this month.

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