Friday, 19 January 2007

Robinson death penalty appeal denied

Published on Friday, January 19, 2007

Robinson death penalty appeal denied

Superior Court Judge E. Lynn Johnson has rejected a request to halt next week’s scheduled execution of Marcus Reymond Robinson.

Robinson, 33, is to be put to death at 2 a.m. next Friday for the June 1991 murder and robbery of 17-year-old Erik Tornblom of Fayetteville.

The state should not execute Robinson, his lawyers said in court papers, because he had brain damage from childhood beatings. They said there is new science to show this brain damage and other damage from his alcohol abuse as a teenager impaired his judgment and ability to control his impulses.

Further, they said, the execution should be postponed while two federal lawsuits proceed over whether North Carolina’s execution procedures are legal under the Eighth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

This amendment prohibits cruel and unusual punishment. North Carolina’s lethal injection practices have the potential to cause intense pain from one of the drugs, lawyers have argued. They say the pain would constitute cruel and unusual punishment.

A Cumberland County jury voted in 1994 to sentence Robinson to death.

In siding with the state Attorney General’s opposition to Robinson’s request, Johnson said that the new evidence Robinson’s lawyers brought up was unlikely to have changed the jurors’ minds.

He also said that the questions about North Carolina’s lethal injection practices were previously settled last year in two other federal lawsuits on whether the inmate feels pain.

In response to the claims, last year North Carolina began using a brain monitor in an effort to ensure that the inmate remains unconscious and unable to perceive pain throughout the execution process.

Separate from Robinson’s request for a stay of execution from Johnson, Robinson’s lawyers this week used similar arguments when they asked Gov. Mike Easley to grant him clemency and convert his death sentence to life in prison. Easley has made no decision on clemency.

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