Speed Reads

Capital Punishment

Convicted killer asks U.S. Supreme Court to halt execution due to brain damage

A Missouri man scheduled to be put to death on Tuesday is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to halt his execution, saying that because part of his brain is missing following an accident, he suffers from mental illness and intellectual disability.

Cecil Clayton, 74, was sentenced to death for shooting and killing a sheriff's deputy in 1996 while the deputy responded to a domestic disturbance call, NBC News reports. Clayton was injured in a sawmill accident in 1972, when a piece of wood went into his skull; doctors had to remove one-fifth of his frontal lobe, or a little less than 8 percent of his brain. Clayton's attorneys say that the surgery turned Clayton suicidal, paranoid, and depressed, and he became an alcoholic prone to violent outbursts.

Missouri's highest court ruled against Clayton, 4-3, over the weekend, saying that because he understood why he was sentenced to death, he is competent for execution. Three judges disagreed, writing in a dissent, "The majority's decision to proceed with the execution at this time and in these circumstances violates the Eighth Amendment ban on cruel and unusual punishment."