Missouri’s Department of Corrections is set to put convicted murder Cecil Clayton, 74, to death today by lethal injection after 6pm CST, despite his lawyers’ contention that he should be spared because he was damaged after a piece of wood was driven into his skull during a sawmill accident 33 years ago. The resulting surgery required to remove it ended up taking out 20% of his frontal lobe, leaving him “incapable of deliberating or forming the necessary intent for a conviction of murder in the 1st degree.” Since the accident, Clayton has been determined to have an IQ of only 71 (29 points below average) and has been in and out of mental institutions.
In fact, Dr. James Reynolds of the Missouri Department of Mental Health concluded that Clayton is “mentally ill, but could not be certain that he doesn’t understand his death sentence,” after being called upon by Missouri’s director of the Department of Corrections to examine him during a competency hearing last year. According to a report in the Kansas City Star, the doctor found that Clayton “would be unable to care for himself or manage basic self-care, were he not in a structured environment that takes care of him. While he can shower, groom, eat, walk; it is his comprehension, judgment, memory, limited intelligence and social deficits that plague him.” It was also found that Clayton suffers from dementia. However, Richard Dieter, executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center was quoted by the New York Times as stating that “’If you can prove mental retardation, you can get exempted, but mental illness alone is not an exemption to the death penalty.”
Clayton, the oldest inmate on death row in the state has been waiting execution for the cold-blooded murder of Barry County Sheriff’s Deputy Christopher Castetter, who had responded to a call complaining that Clayton had been “trespassing” during a fight with his girlfriend in 1996. At the time, Castetter was sitting in his patrol car outside the girlfriend’s mother’s house when Clayton shot him in the head.
Unless there is a last minute stay of execution, Cecil Clayton will become the 2nd person put too death in Missouri this year, following Walter Storey who was executed last month for slitting his neighbor’s throat 25 years ago. 10 other inmates were put to death in the state in 2014. In the meantime, lawyers representing Clayton state that he still “does not believe he will be executed, but thinks God will set him free so he can travel the country preaching and singing the gospel.”