Inmate executed for raping, killing 11-year-old
A 44-year-old Texas man was executed on Thursday evening for raping and
murdering an 11-year-old girl, despite pleas from his attorneys he was too
mentally impaired to qualify for capital punishment.
Bobby Wayne Woods received lethal injection about a half-hour after the
U.S. Supreme Court refused to halt his punishment, which was delayed
briefly until the high court ruled in his case. His lawyers had argued
Woods was mentally impaired, making him ineligible for execution, and that
previous appeals to spare Woods' life were unsuccessful because of shoddy
work by his lawyer at the time.
Tests administered to Woods put his IQ anywhere from the 60s to the 80s.
An IQ of 70 is considered the threshold for mental impairment.
Woods was convicted of capital murder and sentenced to die for the April
1997 slaying of Sarah Patterson, his ex-girlfriend's daughter. She and her
9-year-old brother were snatched from their home in Granbury, near Fort
Worth. Sarah's throat was slit with a knife. Her brother was beaten and
left for dead but survived to testify against Woods.
Asked by a warden if he had a final statement, Woods lifted his head from
the pillow on the death chamber gurney and replied: "Bye. I'm ready."
8 minutes later, at 6:40 p.m. CST, he was pronounced dead.
"I'm not a person that likes harm done to anybody, but I believe in
justice being done," Larry Patterson said after watching his daughter's
killer die. "She had no choice. She didn't get a 2nd chance."
The execution was the 24th and last scheduled for this year in Texas,
where 18 inmates received lethal injection in 2008 in the nation's busiest
capital punishment state. At least five already are scheduled for 2010,
including two in January.
In the appeal to the Supreme Court, Woods' lawyer, University of Texas law
professor Maurie Levin, argued the performance of Woods' state-appointed
attorney during earlier appeals was "so egregious" the prisoner's mental
impairment claims could not be accurately assessed. She pointed out the
attorney has since been removed from a list of lawyers eligible to
represent condemned inmates but by the time she got the case, "the damage
had been done."
State attorneys told the high court no constitutional right exists for an
inmate to have an effective appeals attorney and Woods' claim of
due-process violations "does not change that fact." They also argued
Woods' mental impairment claims already have been rejected by the courts
and the last-ditch appeals improperly duplicated those rejections.
Woods blamed Patterson's death on a cousin who subsequently committed
suicide. He said injuries to her brother were the result of an accident.
"We went walking around graveyards, horsing around by a fence," Woods told
The Associated Press last year from death row. "Cody jumped on my back and
hit a fence post.
"I guess I panicked."
At his trial, Cody Patterson testified Woods attacked him, and prosecutors
presented a mountain of evidence implicating Woods in Sarah's killing,
including signed confessions.
"I put this behind me a lot of years ago," said Cody Patterson, now 21,
who stood outside the prison and chose not to see Woods die. "It has been
a long time coming. I'm glad to know it's done. I knew it was going to be
done sooner or later.
"I seen his picture… That's all I wanted to see," he said, adding that
he recovered from his injuries and that nightmares about the attack have
stopped, but that he still had "the scars on the back of my head."
Richard Hattox, the former Hood County district attorney who prosecuted
Woods, said authorities also had DNA evidence of the girl's blood on
Woods' knife, her blood on his shoe and his DNA on her panties, which were
found in Woods' car.
"How could there be little doubt?" Hattox said Wednesday. "Every bit of
his appeal effort has been expended toward his claim of retardation. And
there's no proof he is retarded."
Woods becomes the 24th condemned inmate to be put to death this year in
Texas and the 447th overall since the state resumed capital punishment on
December 7, 1982. He becomes the 208th condemned inmate to be put to death
since Rick Perry became Governor in 2001.
Woods becomes the 50th condemned inmate to be put to death this year in
the USA and the 1186th overall since the nation resumed exectuions on
Janauary 17, 1977.
(sources: Associated Press & Rick Halperin)