Now that the Supreme Court of the United States has ruled that Florida’s method of deciding if someone can or cannot be executed if they suffer from a mental disability has been ruled unconstitutional (read our posts on Hall v. Florida here), many people may assume that it’s automatic that Death Row inmates with mental disabilities will be spared execution.
You’d be wrong.
Florida Death Row Inmate John Ruthell Henry – Mental State Bars Execution?
Right now, John Henry sits on Florida Death Row, having been convicted and sentenced to die for the three homicides, including the murder of his wife and and her son. His lawyers are arguing that Henry’s mental state precludes execution – that Henry suffers from hallucinations, delusions, and is not mentally sane.
He is scheduled to die next Wednesday.
Florida Governor Rick Scott Orders Evaluation
On May 2, 2014, Florida Governor Rick Scott signed the death warrant allowing Mr. Henry’s capital punishment to proceed. See the Florida Capital Resource Center’s Active Warrants Page here.
On May 14th, Gov. Scott changed things with his Executive Order where Scott appointed 3 doctors to examine Henry to decide his current mental state.
Florida Supreme Court Denies Appeal
Today, the Florida Supreme Court denied an appeal filed by John Ruthell Henry’s counsel, based upon the SCOTUS Hall v. Florida precedent, which argued that Henry should not be executed because he is intellectually disabled and the Eighth Amendment therefore bars the death penalty.
The Florida High Court determined that since “intellectual disability” involves "significantly subaverage general functioning" and John Henry can communicate, is able to form relationships, and more, he does not meet the “intellectual disability” legal standard and this cannot form the basis of thwarting capital punishment in his situation.
John Henry faces an execution by the State of Florida next Wednesday, June 18, at 6 p.m. — Will this happen?