Missouri is set to carry out its tenth execution of the year tonight, but attorneys for Paul Goodwin are making several efforts to halt it.
Two requests for stays have been filed in a federal appeals court and one to the U.S. Supreme Court regarding Goodwin’s mental status. A request for clemency from Governor Jay Nixon is also based on that ground. Another request for stay has been filed with the U.S. Supreme Court based on arguments against Missouri’s execution protocol and means of acquiring the pentobarbital it uses for lethal injections.
A judge in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri has already denied Goodwin’s attorneys’ request for a stay based on his mental status. The other four court filings, mentioned above, are still pending.
Goodwin murdered his former neighbor, Joan Crotts, in 1998. After hiding in her basement for several hours he forced her to perform a sex act on him, pushed her down the stairs and then struck her multiple times in the back of the head with a sledge-hammer.
Goodwin’s attorneys and a psychologist who has interviewed Goodwin several times in more than a decade have told the governor and the courts that Goodwin should not be executed because he has the mental capacity of a 13-year-old, that he is unable to understand the efforts to defend him, and that his is constitutionally incompetent to be executed. They are asking that a court halt his execution and then consider the claim that he has a mental disability.
Missouri’s Attorney General argues that Goodwin does not have a mental disability. It says the original jury was presented with the same argument regarding Goodwin’s mental capacity and still sentenced him to death, and several appeals based on the same argument have also been rejected. It also argues he is able to understand what sentence he faces.
Unless the Governor or a court intercedes, Goodwin will die by lethal injection at 12:01 Wednesday morning at the prison in Bonne Terre.