Mississippi Preparing to Execute Man Despite Strong Evidence of Mental Retardation
Earl Berry is scheduled to be executed on May 21 in Mississippi, despite evidence that he has mental retardation. Judicial review of this evidence has been denied because his former lawyers failed to file the evidence in a timely fashion. This would be the second execution since the U.S. Supreme Court approved Kentucky's method of lethal injection on April 16. Last month, a psychologist concluded that Berry had an IQ of 75 or below and “significantly sub-average intellectual functioning and … meets the criteria to be classified as mentally retarded.” The U.S. Supreme Court banned execution of those with mental retardation in Atkins v. Virginia (2002).
Affidavits describe Berry’s slow development, head injuries sustained as a child, multiple suicide attempts, and that, even as an adult, he was never able to live independently. When Berry was discharged from a Mississippi prison hospital at 25, his release followed a suicide attempt and he was diagnosed with “suicidal gestures/mentally retarded.” During his school years, Berry’s IQ was tested at 72. In 1992, a psychologist also testified that Berry suffered from paranoid schizophrenia.