Tuesday, 23 January 2007

Lawyers appeal for condemned inmate who claims brain damage

Lawyers appeal for condemned inmate who claims brain damage

RALEIGH, North Carolina: A judge has dismissed a death row inmate's claim that he suffers brain damage from childhood beatings that may have impaired his ability to control his impulses.

Lawyers for convicted murderer Marcus Reymond Robinson, 33, rushed to appeal the decision to the North Carolina Supreme Court on Monday, just days before Robinson is scheduled to be executed by injection Friday.

Superior Court Judge E. Lynn Johnson also dismissed a claim last Friday that the state's method of execution may be unconstitutionally cruel.

Robinson's lawyers said they may also raise the issue of whether doctors in North Carolina can assist in executions. The state Medical Board last week approved a new ethics policy that allows doctors to be present at an execution, as required by state law, but not participate.

Robinson was sentenced to death for the June 1991 robbery and shotgun killing of Erik Tornblom, 17. The U.S. Supreme Court has twice refused to hear his case.

Robinson's lawyers contended in the court filing that Robinson had brain damage caused by childhood beatings. They said life in prison without parole would be a more appropriate punishment.

The lawyers also said the execution should be stopped because two federal judges are considering whether the state's execution process is unconstitutionally cruel and unusual punishment.

Similar questions about whether lethal injection is inhumane have put executions on hold in nine states — Arkansas, California, Delaware, Florida, Maryland, Missouri, New Jersey, Ohio and South Dakota.

North Carolina contends that Robinson would be put to sleep and paralyzed before the drug that kills him is injected. But the defense says Robinson could awaken and not be able to move and endure extreme pain.

The state Department of Correction uses a brain monitor to help determine if the inmate is asleep or needs additional drugs during an execution.

Governor Mike Easley has been asked to stop the execution using his executive clemency power. The governor typically does not issue his clemency decision until all court action concludes.

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