A mentally ill death row inmate convicted of shooting a city inspector in 2005 was executed by lethal injection on Tuesday evening in Huntsville, Texas, only hours after an appeal for a ban filed by his attorneys was denied by the U.S. Supreme Court.
Adam Kelly Ward, who was found guilty of murder in 2007, was refused his last appeal two hours before his execution despite efforts from his attorneys, who argued that his mental impairment constituted sufficient grounds for a stay on his sentence.
“The crime for which Mr. Ward received the penalty of death was an act inextricable from the delusions and paranoia fed by his disabling bipolar disorder,” Ward’s lawyers stated in their petition.
Ward was pronounced dead on March 22 at 6:34 P.M., according to Reuters.
In June 2005, Ward came across Michael Walker, a city code inspector who was observing a pile of junk outside of his home in Commerce, Texas, and taking pictures with a camera. An argument ensued between the two men.
When the city official told Ward he was going to dial for assistance, Ward became convinced that the police were en route to kill him.
After that, Ward procured a .45-caliber pistol from his home and repeatedly fired at Walker, hitting him nine times.
At the time of the incident, “Ward said [in a videotaped confession] he believed Commerce officials long conspired against him and his father,” according to the Associated Press. Ward also was “described in court filings as a hoarder who had been in conflict with the city for years.” Ultimately, he claimed he had killed Walker in self-defense.
“Only time any shots were fired on my behalf was when I was matching force with force,” Ward said in an interview with the AP in February. “I wish it never happened but it did, and I have to live with what it is.”
While a camera and a cell phone were found on the victim, it was confirmed that Walker was not carrying a firearm on the scene.
During his first trial in 2007, Ward’s attorneys submitted evidence to prove that he suffered from bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, which resulted in paranoia and delusional behavior. After he was convicted, his lawyers then pressed for them to be presented in proceeding appellate hearings.
Ward’s case centered around the meaning of mental impairment, which the high court ruled to be appeal “improper and without merit.”
As the AP reported:
“The justices have ruled that mentally impaired people, generally those with an IQ below 70, may not be executed. However, the court has said mentally ill prisoners may be executed if they understand they are about to be put to death and why they face the punishment.
State attorneys, who said evidence showed Ward’s IQ as high as 123, said the late appeal did not raise a new issue, meaning it was improper and without merit. They also disputed claims of changing attitudes about executing the mentally ill.”
In a report published by the ACLU in 2009, there are estimations that “five to ten percent of death row inmates suffer from a severe mental illness.” As of now, there have been 535 executions in Texas since 1976, ranking it at the top for cumulative executions in the U.S. since that year.
Ward will be the fifth man to be executed in the state, and the ninth nationally, since the beginning of 2016.
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Image via Associated Press.