Johnny Paul Penry
Johnny Paul Penry (born May 5, 1956) is a Texas Death Row convict who death penalty opponents claim is intellectually disabled. He was sentenced to death on April 9, 1980 for raping and stabbing 22-year-old Pamela Moseley Carpenter (sister of American football star Mark Moseley), who died of her wounds, on October 25, 1979. His lawyer claims that he has the reasoning capability of a seven-year old. However, many of Penry's letters to family members and other writings tend to refute that claim.
On February 15, 2008 Penry entered a plea agreement in which he agreed to three consecutive sentences of life without parole for Carpenter's murder and sexual assault and an aggravated assault against prosecutor Joe Price in an outburst during one of Penry's court appearances.
In the plea proceedings, Penry stated that he "is presently, and at all times relevant to these proceedings, not a person with mental retardation as that term is defined by the Texas Health and Safety Code, The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual IV-TR published by the American Psychiatric Association, and the American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (formerly AAMR)." Penry and his attorneys also ratified the 2002 jury finding that he was not mentally retarded as well as the 2002 findings of fact and conclusions of law entered by then presiding judge Elizabeth Coker to the same effect.
Three juries had found Penry mentally competent to stand trial during competency hearings held in conjunction with the three capital murder trials. Penry believes in Santa Claus, according to the New York Times, and also loves to draw coloring books with crayons.
Penry's case went twice to the United States Supreme Court: Penry v. Lynaugh found that executing the mentally retarded is not cruel and unusual punishment; Penry v. Johnson found that the jury's instructions regarding mitigating factors were incomplete and that Penry should be re-sentenced.
- Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution
- Atkins v. Virginia, which partially reversed Penry v. Lynaugh
- Bigby v. Dretke, which re-addressed jury instructions in Penry v. Lynaugh
- List of United States death row inmates
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