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Morris Odell Mason (March 28, 1954 – June 25, 1985) was a convicted rapist and murderer who called himself "the killer for the Eastern Shore".
He was convicted of rape, murder, and arson in the 1978 murder of 71-year-old Margaret K. Hand in Northampton County, Virginia. Mason nailed his victim's wrist into the seat of a chair and bound her with rope into that chair before burning her home down.
Attorneys for Mason contended that their client was mentally retarded and did not comprehend his crimes, thus warranting the commutation of his death sentence by Governor Chuck Robb. The Governor rejected their appeals after having read internal memos stating that several psychiatric analyses of Mason done by the state during his life of crime showed that Mason had a low IQ but understood his actions. In particular, after killing Hand, Mason took steps to avoid implicating himself by returning to the burning house to recover a bag with his identity papers in it.
Mason pleaded guilty to assault on two teenage sisters the day after Hand's murder. His combined sentences consisted of one death penalty, seven life sentences, and 100 years of imprisonment for his crimes. According to a report by Human Rights Watch 'he had so little conception of death that he asked advisors what he should wear to his own funeral, and said cheerfully, on his way to the execution chamber, that a visitor should tell a fellow inmate that "when I get back, I'm gonna show him I can play basketball as good as he can".' Immediately before the execution on the electric chair he gave no response when asked for his last words. At 11:07pm Morris Mason was declared dead in Richmond State Penitentiary.
- The Associated Press. Two Men Convicted Of Murder Are Executed In Virginia And Texas. The New York Times (1985-06-26). Retrieved on 2007-08-13.
- Helen Redmond. Executions Banned For Mentally Retarded. The New Abolitionist (August 2002, Issue 25). Retrieved on 2007-08-13.[dead link]
- US Executions since 1976. Clark County Prosecutor. Retrieved on 2007-08-13.
- Human Rights Watch. Beyond Reason: Defendants with Mental Retardation: Their Stories. Retrieved on 2008-04-01.