Spared by Their Low IQ

The Supreme Court bars execution of the mentally retarded. But which death-row inmates qualify?

From the moment the Supreme Court ruled last week that states are forbidden to execute the mentally retarded, it was plain that the decision would affect people in the most dramatic way possible. It was certainly plain in Conroe, Texas, where Johnny Paul Penry, 46, was facing a sentencing trial for the 1979 stabbing death of Pamela Moseley Carpenter, then 22, the sister of former Washington Redskins kicker Mark Moseley. Penry was first convicted in 1980, but his attorneys have long claimed that he has the reasoning ability of a 6- or 7-year-old. In 1989 the Supreme Court threw out his...

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