James Terry Roach

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James Terry Roach
Born (1960-02-18)February 18, 1960
Died January 10, 1986(1986-01-10) (aged 25)
Central Correction Institute, Columbia, South Carolina
Criminal penalty Death
Criminal status Executed 10 January 1986
Conviction(s) One count of rape, Two counts of murder

James Terry Roach (February 18, 1960 – January 10, 1986) was the second person to be executed by the state of South Carolina following the 1976 decision by the U.S. Supreme Court reauthorizing the use of capital punishment by the states. He was electrocuted on January 10, 1986, nearly a year to the day following the electrocution of his accomplice, Joseph Carl Shaw on January 11, 1985, at the Central Correctional Institution in Columbia. He was executed at the age of 25 for a crime committed when he was 17 years old.

He was convicted of the rape and murder of a fourteen-year-old girl and the murder of her seventeen-year-old boyfriend. Evidence presented at the trial showed that Roach was mentally retarded, with an I.Q. between 75 and 80 and that he was probably suffering from Huntington's Chorea. Moreover, the sentencing judge found that Roach was under the influence of Shaw when the crimes were committed. Despite these mitigating factors, the sentencing judge declared that the death penalty was warranted in this case.

The sentence was upheld on appeal by the South Carolina Supreme Court. Several attempts to seek review of the case or to bring a petition of habeas corpus were unsuccessful. The US Supreme Court declined to grant him certiorari or to review the case.

The case of James Terry Roach was brought before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, which found by five votes to one that the United States Government had violated Article I (Right to Life) and Article II (right to equality before the law) of the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man in executing James Terry Roach. This was the first time that the United States was found to be in violation with its human rights obligations under the said Declaration.

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