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The BBC's Jonny Dymond
"This will be the third time that the state of Texas has executed two inmates in one night"
 real 28k

Texan district attorney, Susan Reed
"In relation to the IQ of Oliver Cruz there is conflicting evidence"
 real 28k

Wednesday, 9 August, 2000, 14:26 GMT 15:26 UK
Death penalty dilemma for Bush
members of the public protest against the execution of a convict
Texas has become the busiest death chamber in the US
A mentally retarded man is due to be executed in Texas, one half of a double execution which will put the spotlight on Republican presidential candidate George W Bush's record.

Oliver David Cruz, 33, convicted of robbery, rape and murder, has an IQ of as low as 63.

He is scheduled to be executed shortly after Brian Keith Roberson, 36, who was sentenced to die for the 1986 murder of two people during a burglary in Dallas.

Oliver David Cruz
Cruz's fate has prompted pleas for clemency

Multiple executions are rare, even in Texas, and Cruz's has prompted particular pleas for clemency from Governor Bush.

Lethal injections

Mr Bush is running as a "compassionate conservative" but has faced repeated criticism for the high number of executions in his home state.

Unless the courts or Mr Bush himself intervene, the two men are set to die by lethal injection at the state prison in Huntsville.

"We think it's a go for both of them," said Texas Department of Criminal Justice spokesman Larry Todd. "We're preparing as we do for any execution."

Governor George W Bush
The White House hopeful faces another death penalty controversy
"The execution of persons who are mentally retarded serves no principled purpose and demeans our system of justice," Martha Barnett, president of the American Bar Association said in her letter to Mr Bush on Monday.

Mr Bush will be campaigning in California when Cruz is scheduled to die. The governor has the power to issue a 30-day delay.

Cruz has made five unsuccessful appeals against the conviction.

Debate

Thirteen states prohibit executions of retarded people.

He blamed the murder he committed on drug use that began for him at age 13.

Lethal injection room
Convicts Cruz and Roberson will die by lethal injection
His lawyer has argued that a jury was not given enough information about his client's lifelong mental impairment.

An IQ under 70 is considered at least mildly retarded, but prosecutors noted that Cruz had scored above 70 before.

Texas has executed 225 people since resuming capital punishment in 1982, after a national death penalty ban was lifted.

During its last session, the Texas state legislature failed to pass a law outlawing the execution of someone whose IQ is below 65, but it will debate the issue again in 2001.

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See also:

12 Jun 00 | Americas
Most US death sentences 'flawed'
22 May 00 | Americas
Serial killer gets death penalty
03 May 00 | Americas
Woman executed in Arkansas
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