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Steven Anthony Butler - Texas - Page 3
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Thread: Steven Anthony Butler - Texas

  1. #21
    Administrator Helen's Avatar
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    Man on death row for 1986 killing is 'intellectually disabled,' Harris DA agrees

    The Harris County district attorneys office has agreed that a man convicted of murdering a 50-year-old woman at a dry cleaner in 1986 is intellectually disabled and should be removed from death row.

    Attorneys for Steven Butler, 59, have argued since 2003 that their client has intellectual disabilities that preclude him from a death sentence, but have had their requests denied on multiple occasions.

    On Tuesday, however, prosecutors accepted their own experts opinion that Butler is unfit for execution and recommended that he be removed from death row. The decision will lie in the hands of the Criminal Court of Appeals if District Court Judge Jason Luong signs off on the recommendation.

    Prosecutors brought in a new expert, Dr. Timothy Proctor, to re-examine Butler in 2019 after the Texas Court of Criminal Court of Appeals agreed to have his case reconsidered in light of the 2017 U.S. Supreme Court case Moore v. Texas, which ruled that the state had been incorrectly measuring intellectual disability for years.

    The expert who evaluated Butler the 1st time, Dr. George Denkowski, has since been discredited by the state Board of Examiners and Psychologists. The new stipulations require that intellectual disability now be determined using standards set by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, or DSM-5.

    Butler was sentenced to death in 1988 for killing 50-year-old Velma Clemons at a dry cleaning store after he tried to pick up clothes under a false name. When she refused to hand over clothes or money, Butler fatally shot her in the abdomen.

    Butler admitted to that crime and others after he was arrested in Chambers County, but blamed a made-up person for his actions and accused his lawyer of being a demon.

    In subsequent mental health evaluations, experts found a history of limited intellectual functioning, including an IQ score around 70 and difficulty with everyday activities such as reading and obeying signs, as well as an inability to effectively engage in most kinds of social interactions. All are thresholds for intellectual disability in the DSM-5.

    After Proctor found that Butler meets those thresholds, he agreed with the defenses assessment that Butler has an intellectual disability, court records show.

    Once that happened, it became clear this was not a person who deserves to be on death row, and we need to get him off, said Assistant District Attorney Joshua Reiss.

    In agreed findings submitted to the district court Tuesday, prosecutors argued that Butler should be taken off death row, and instead serve an automatic life sentence in prison. Though he will be eligible for parole, because a life sentence without parole did not exist as a sentence when Butler was convicted, Reiss said prosecutors will argue against his release at parole board hearings.

    Sometimes when you follow the law, it leads you to results you might not necessarily like, but you do what the law is required and in this case its clear, Reiss said, noting Butler also committed another murder, as well as multiple sexual assaults and robberies, the same year he killed Clemons.

    Lisa Clemons, Velma Clemonss youngest daughter, said she doesnt believe Butler is intellectualy disabled .

    To me, hes a coward, and the fact that hes possibly being given another opportunity, I dont think he deserves that, Clemons said. I think its very sad that he can do a play on the criminal justice system like that and say hes not of the right mind. Its just a disgrace the way the criminal justice system is overturning something like this.

    For Jacqueline Lifshutz Boggs, sister of Jefferson Johnson, a store clerk who was killed by Butler during a robbery that same year, the development brings back painful memories.

    We felt like justice had been served 35 years ago and now to learn about this intellectual disability and the possibility of parole, its stirred up a lot of emotions and feelings and memories that are once again hard to deal with, Boggs said.

    Butlers attorneys declined to comment Wednesday, and Judge Luong did not respond to questions on whether he would pass the recommendation to the appeals court.

    (source: Houston Chronicle)
    "I realize this may sound harsh, but as a father and former lawman, I really don't care if it's by lethal injection, by the electric chair, firing squad, hanging, the guillotine or being fed to the lions."
    - Oklahoma Rep. Mike Christian

    "There are some people who just do not deserve to live,"
    - Rev. Richard Hawke

    There are lots of extremely smug and self-satisfied people in what would be deemed lower down in society, who also deserve to be pulled up. In a proper free society, you should be allowed to make jokes about absolutely anything.
    - Rowan Atkinson

  2. #22
    Senior Member CnCP Legend Bobsicles's Avatar
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    If he has an IQ of 70, he’s not intellectually disabled
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  3. #23
    Senior Member CnCP Legend JLR's Avatar
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    Thats just simply not true. According to pretty much every doctor, pychologist and expert in this field, far from ruling it out completely, an IQ of 70 is very much indicative of a person having a intellectual disability. The states own expert would say and has said the exact same thing.

  4. #24
    Administrator Aaron's Avatar
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    One thing that has always vexed me about IQ thresholds is how inequitable they have been in the inmate's favor. That is, an IQ over 70 (i.e. above 70 but below 75) can't be used to automatically rule out ID and other adaptive deficits (i.e. excuses) must be considered, but an IQ below 70 automatically results in a finding of ID. If things were fair to the state, an inmate could be found competent with an IQ below 70 if they had other adaptive strengths to consider, or if they exhibited cognizance (i.e. took steps to conceal the crime).
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  5. #25
    Senior Member CnCP Legend JLR's Avatar
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    Everything you've just said is already the case. An IQ of 70 or below doesn't automatically exempt you from the death penalty. You have to establish two other factors, evidence of adaptive deficits ( which is proof that intellectual disability has lead to the person being unable to care for themselves properly, educational struggles etc) and that it occurred before 18. Many inmates with an iq below 70 have lost their appeals. No one disputed that Danny Hill had an IQ of below 70 but he is still facing execution.

  6. #26
    Administrator Aaron's Avatar
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    I may have misunderstood some things then. It's my understanding that Hall v. Florida allowed those with an IQ above 70 to still potentially be declared disabled, and I had assumed that this flexibility was being allowed even while automatic declarations of "disability" were made for those below the MR cutoff of 70. If wrong then I apologize.

    As for Hill, is his IQ actually below 70, or is he malingering? I'll admit I know little about his case except that the crime was extremely heinous and that the obdurate 6th Circuit has been repeatedly smacked down by SCOTUS in this case. But on to the case claims, is he attempting to merely re-litigate his "disability" in light of the Moore decision, which is responsible for so many horrendous stays and appeals? Just as other inmates such as Blaine Milam have argued for "disability" on the grounds of "evolving science?" I.e. Hill was previously declared fit but is now attempting to revisit it in light of new case law and science. Does Hill's current appeal somewhat resemble that slipshod summary?

    Of course, I stand by what I say about inequitable treatment of the state. For instance, Moore ruled that the state can't use "unscientific" evidence such as the Briseno factors against inmates with an IQ in the possibly retarded range, but inmates can still, under the patina of "science," use evidence that really isn't any more cogent for their argument. For instance, saying a murderer is fit for execution because he demonstrated planning and tried to conceal the crime is no longer acceptable, but saying he's "unfit" because he struggled with hygiene, did poorly in school, or couldn't maintain steady employment I'd still allowed, even though plenty of people who aren't retarded can struggle with those things.

    Granted, I recognize that the latter are more clinical than the former, which are little more than lay observations and "common sense," and that the latter three alone would be insufficient, requiring concomitant clinical evidence. But I would hold that in many regards, modern science and psychology - especially in the fields of criminal justice - are little more than dogmas intended to absolve as many as possible from the consequences of their actions. Science sometimes appeals to authority, and under this presumed authoritative status, has made some ludicrous claims in recent years. It's not a stretch that such "science" could be abused to get someone demonstrably not disabled, such as Milam, off of death row. I'll refrain from saying anything about Butler's claims since I know nothing about them.
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  7. #27
    Senior Member CnCP Legend Bobsicles's Avatar
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    Death sentence vacated by the TCCA

    https://search.txcourts.gov/handdown...ate=05/25/2022
    Thank you for the adventure - Axol

    Tried so hard and got so far, but in the end it doesnt even matter - Linkin Park

    Hear me, my chiefs! I am tired. My heart is sick and sad. From where the sun now stands, I will fight no more forever. - Hin-mah-too-yah-lat-kekt

    Im going to the ghost McDonalds - Garcello

  8. #28
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    Texas court resentences 2 death row prisoners to life

    By Danielle Haynes
    UPI

    A Texas appellate court on Wednesday resentenced two death row prisoners to life in prison, both on their claims of intellectual disability.

    The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals resentenced Steven Anthony Butler, 60, and Juan Ramon Meza Segundo, 59, after previously denying both of their intellectual disability claims, according to the Death Penalty Information Center.

    Butler, originally from Natchez, Miss., was sentenced to death in 1988 for the shooting death of Velma Clemons during the robbery of a Houston-area dry cleaning store where she worked in 1986.

    Butler's lawyers argued he was intellectually disabled and that his execution would violate Eighth Amendment protections against cruel and unusual punishment. They said he may not have been competent to stand trial since he blamed imaginary people for his crimes.

    Segundo, meanwhile, was sentenced to death for the 1986 rape and murder of Vanessa Villa, an 11-year-old girl, at her home in Fort Worth. Her mother had left her home alone to run errands and the girl was found strangled to death in her bed.

    DNA evidence linked Segundo to the crime in 2006, and prosecutors accused him of two other rapes and murders, The Texas Tribune reported.

    The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals halted Segundo's scheduled execution in October 2018 based on his lawyers' questions about his intellectual disability. His IQ was tested to be 75, and his brother testified that he had fallen down the stairs as a baby and seemed to be "always in a daze."

    https://www.upi.com/Top_News/US/2022...5661653507169/

  9. #29
    Moderator Ryan's Avatar
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    Sentence commuted from death to life 6/22/22.

    https://www.tdcj.texas.gov/death_row...ger_on_dr.html
    "How do you get drunk on death row?" - Werner Herzog

    "When we get fruit, we get the juice and water. I ferment for a week! It tastes like chalk, it's nasty" - Blaine Keith Milam #999558 Texas Death Row

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