U.S. Court to Review Execution of the Retarded

WASHINGTON, D.C., MAR. 26, 2001 (Zenit.org).- The U.S. Supreme Court agreed today to consider whether the Constitution bars the execution of mentally retarded people as “cruel and unusual´´ punishment, the Associated Press reported.

The court said it will hear an appeal by North Carolina death-row inmate Ernest McCarver, whose execution the justices halted this month just hours before he was to be put to death, AP said.

McCarver, 40, was convicted of the 1987 stabbing and choking death of Woodrow Hartley, a 71-year-old worker at the Concord cafeteria where McCarver had worked. McCarver´s lawyers say he is mentally retarded and has the mind of a 10-year-old child.

His appeal asks whether “national standards have evolved such that executing a mentally retarded man would violate´´ the Constitution´s 8th Amendment ban on cruel and unusual punishment, AP said. The appeal cites “society´s newly evolved consensus against executing the mentally retarded.´´