“I feel it.” Those were the last words of Adam Ward, who was put to death by the State of Texas last night after the U.S. Supreme Court rejected his appeal for a stay of execution. Ward’s attorneys argued he should be exempt from execution based on evidence of his severe mental illness.
According to Texas Tribune reporter Jolie McCullough, Ward called his execution an “injustice.” He was convicted of killing Commerce Code Enforcement Officer Michael “Pee Wee” Walker in 2005 in Hunt County. Ward was 22 years old at the time of the crime; he had a long, documented history of mental health issues.
From the Tribune:
At his original trial, a psychiatrist said Ward suffered from a psychotic disorder that caused him to “suffer paranoid delusions such that he believes there might be a conspiracy against him and that people might be after him or trying to harm him,” according to court documents.
Appeals courts recognized Ward’s mental illness, describing his aggressiveness as a young child and delusional tendencies by sixth grade. By 15, the federal district court where he filed his appeal said, Ward “interpreted neutral things as a threat or personal attack.”
Although state and federal courts acknowledged Ward’s mental illness, they still deemed him eligible for the death penalty.
Texas accounts for five of the nine executions that have taken place in the United States to date in 2016. At least nine other individuals currently have execution dates.