HOUSTON, Texas – A state appeals court Wednesday rejected a death row inmate’s claim of mental retardation and refused to spare his life, despite an IQ of less than 70 and a jailhouse nickname of “Half-Deck” because of his slow thinking.
No execution date has been set for 25-year-old Michael Wayne Hall.
“While there was significant evidence in favor of a finding of mental retardation, there was also significant evidence against such a finding,” the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals in Austin ruled in a 7-2 opinion.
Hall was convicted and sentenced to die for the 1998 slaying of a 19-year-old woman who was abducted as she rode her bicycle to her job as a supermarket checkout employee.
In 2002, the U.S. Supreme Court returned Hall’s case to the state courts in light of its ruling earlier that year that mentally retarded people may not be executed.
Among the evidence in his appeal was an affidavit from a fellow death row inmate who said that Hall had to be reminded daily to do chores like wash himself and clean his toilet.
An IQ of 70 is generally considered the threshold for retardation.
In a dissent, two judges said that a full hearing on whether Hall is retarded should be held and that the court should not rule solely on the basis of affidavits and the trial transcript.
Reagan Wynn, one of Hall’s attorneys, said the argument could be taken back to the federal courts. “There was no doubt Michael Hall was retarded until the state figured out they couldn’t kill him if he was,” Wynn said.