JACKSON — A federal appeals court has upheld a ruling that Mississippi death row inmate William Wiley should not be executed because he is mentally disabled.
U.S. District Judge Allen Pepper Jr. ruled in November 2009 that Wiley’s death sentence should be vacated. The state attorney general’s office appealed the decision to the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans. The appeals court upheld Pepper’s decision in a ruling this week.
Wiley was first convicted in 1982 for the killing and robbery of J.B. Turner, whose store was in the Mineral Wells community of Desoto County. Turner died from a shotgun blast and his daughter was blinded in the attack on Aug. 22, 1981.
Wiley, now 56, confessed to waiting outside the store until it closed then shooting and robbing the victims. He spent more than 20 years on death row by the time Pepper decided last year that his life should be spared.
Pepper noted testimony that Wiley, even as a teenager, needed prompts to help get dressed and that he was discharged from the Army after just four months because he could not complete his training. Several tests also showed Wiley is mentally disabled, Pepper ruled.
A panel of three 5th Circuit Court judges affirmed the decision Wednesday.
The Mississippi attorney general’s office did not immediately respond to a question about whether the state will appeal the ruling.
Wiley was the second Mississippi death row inmate to receive a favorable ruling this week.
The Mississippi Supreme Court ruled Thursday to throw out the death sentence given Kristi Fulgham, convicted in the 2003 murder of her husband.
The Supreme Court ordered a new sentencing hearing, ruling the trial judge erred when he wouldn’t allow a social worker to testify during the sentencing phase of Fulgham’s trial.
The Associated Press