exoneration severe mental illness Texas

State of Texas executes Derrick Charles

Last night, the State of Texas carried out its seventh execution of the year, putting Derrick Charles to death for the murders of his 15-year-old girlfriend, Myiesha Bennett, her mother Brenda Bennett, and her grandfather, Obie Lee Bennett in 2002 in Harris County.  Charles was 19 years old at the time.  According to his attorneys with the Texas Defender Service (TDS), he suffered from symptoms of severe mental illness throughout his life.

Here’s a statement from TDS upon learning the U.S. Supreme Court had denied a stay of execution in Derrick Charles’ case.

“We are disappointed with the Court’s response.  Derrick Charles has a lifelong history of severe mental illness.  While the Court has ruled that it is unconstitutional to execute the insane – those people without a rational understanding of why they are being executed – it is a hollow promise without resources and evaluation.  Derrick Charles and his deteriorating mental condition deserved that.”

— Paul Mansur, Senior Staff Attorney, Texas Defender Service, Counsel to Derrick Charles

Texas accounts for seven of the fourteen executions that have occurred nationwide to date in 2015. Two individuals are scheduled to be executed in June.