As you may know, the focus of Terence Lenamon’s death penalty practice is upon the second trial in a death penalty case, the sentencing phase, where a man (or woman) has been convicted of a capital crime and now, the question is whether or not the state will succeed in their quest for capital punishment. (See, e.g., this post which includes one of Terry Lenamon’s opening statements.)
Death Penalty Sentencing Phase: Mental Illness, Mental Disability
Often, the crux of his defense will turn on things like the mental illness or instability of his client. Things like schizophrenia come into play.
In some cases, the critical factor will be mental capacity or intellectual disability. Things like traumatic brain injuries, chromosomal abnormalities, and introduction of toxins (including extended drug use) may be facts to be presented.
Jeff Wood on Texas Death Row
Terry’s not representing Jeff Wood in Texas, but he knows the fight that is being fought right now. Attorneys for Mr. Wood are trying to stop his execution, scheduled in a matter of days.
If they don’t succeed, Jeff Wood will die by lethal injection on August 24, 2016.
And Jeff Wood is argued to suffer both intellectual and emotional disabilities — things that his lawyers argue should make him constitutionally ineligible for that execution.
An even bigger argument? One that goes back to the guilt or innocence phase of a death penalty trial, more than in the sentencing trial.
Jeff Wood didn’t kill anyone. He was sentenced to die under a Texas law that is called the "law of parties," where he is held just as liable for the death of the victim as his accomplice in crime, the person who did do the killing. (That killer was executed back in 2002.)
So, will Texas execute Jeff Wood?