By Mary Welek Atwell (auth.)
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Additional info for An American Dilemma: International Law, Capital Punishment, and Federalism
He further believed that his current status as “saved” would persuade the jury to acquit him. 4 In the sentencing phase of the trial, the state argued that Breard should receive the death penalty based on two factors: the vileness of the murder of Ruth Dickie and his future dangerousness. The latter argument stemmed from a pattern of sex offenses—the attempted rape of Jeanine Price and another sexual assault on Celia Gonzales three weeks prior to Dickie’s murder. Mitigating evidence included testimony from a prison missionary about Breard’s religious conversion.
However, clarification of the level of insanity that would prohibit execution remained for the state courts to decide. On several occasions, the court has addressed the matter of whether the Constitution permits the execution of the mentally retarded. In Penry v. Lynaugh,29 the majority ruled that it was not unconstitutional to put a retarded person to death. However, they did insist that Texas courts must allow juries to be told that mental retardation was a mitigating factor. In 2002, they reversed Penry in Atkins v.
19 46 A n A m e r i ca n D i l e m m a Breard v. 20 In a per curium opinion, five members of the court (Chief Justice Rehnquist, Justices O’Connor, Scalia, Kennedy, and Thomas), with a concurrence by Justice Souter, rejected the claims of Breard, Paraguay, and the ICJ. 21 The majority ruled that Breard had procedurally defaulted his claim under the Vienna Convention by failing to raise the issue in state court. ”22 This point suggested that the Supreme Court was helpless to override state procedural rules, regardless of their consequences.