For background on Gregory Wilson’s execution scheduled for Sept. 16, please visit “Clock ticking on Gregory Wilson’s execution: Case background.” And to read some of the many reasons why its wrong, please read “Clock ticking on Gregory Wilson’s execution: Issues of race, mental retardation, expiring chemicals, fundamental fairness.”
Please write a letter to Gov. Steve Beshear as well as your local newspaper
Gov. Steve Beshear can be reached at
700 Capitol Avenue, Suite 100
Frankfort, Kentucky 40601
Here are links to the Lexington Herald-Leader and the Louisville Courier-Journal for submitting letters to the editors:
Of course writing your local newspapers is always an excellent idea because legislators and those running for office pay close attention to the opinions of their constituents.
Feel free to write your own letter, but here are talking points you might want to use:
- Executing someone with chemicals about to expire presents a risk that the sleep drug will not do its job. That someone might wake up during their own execution is barbaric. Please consider rescinding you death warrant.
- Wilson has evidence he is mentally retarded. It is being presented in court now. Please consider rescinding your death warrant until this claim can be fully considered.
- The process of selecting one of three persons for execution because there is a drug shortage and a key chemical is about to expire produces a verdict which is entirely the product of chance. This state of affairs holds the justice system up to ridicule.
- Even supporters of the death penalty are concerned about using a sleep drug that is about to expire. What tests have been conducted on the current supply to make sure it will work in the manner intended? An execution scheduled only 14 days before the sleep drug expires poses a substantial risk of lingering pain. The possibility that someone might wake up during their own execution is deeply troubling to us and the citizenry we serve.
- While we are aware of the problems caused by a national shortage of the sleep drug required in the lethal injection protocol and that Kentucky has only one dose of the drug on hand, we are nevertheless uncomfortable with any triage process that draws one name out of the three on your desk awaiting your execution order. Whether the selection process is based on lots or straws or dice or the good faith deliberations of your aides or the first-in first-out rationale of generally accepted accounting principles, the end result is the verdict of chance. Any selection process under the current circumstances demeans the justice system, holds it up to ridicule and offends the legal requirement that the death penalty be administered in a way that precludes arbitrary and capricious application.
- Allowing only 21 days between the time of your order and the execution is contrary to custom and impinges on the ability of defense lawyers to seek remedies in court, including adjudication of Wilson’s claim that he is mentally retarded. Both opponents and supporters of the death penalty are committed to fundamental notions of fair play that require sufficient time to allow court appeals. Why such a short timeframe?
Here are additional questions that could be used in letters to Gov. Beshear or adapted for letters to editors of your local newspaper:
- Did you select the Sept. 16 execution date to avoid an execution during the World Equestrian Games between Sept. 25 and the date the chemicals expire on Oct. 1?
- Justice Cabinet Secretary Michael Brown told WFPL reporter Gabe Bullard in an interview that the state has enough chemicals to execute all three prisoners if you do it back to back. Have you considered back-to-back executions? If so, why did you reject it? If you didn’t, why not?
- If you were going to have your dog (or your horse) put down, would you want the vet to use chemicals that were about to expire?
- If you were going into surgery, would you want anesthesia that was about to expire?
- If you were going to the dentist would you want Novocaine that was about to expire?
- You tasked Sec. Brown with coming up with a method to determine which of the three death row inmates would be executed first. He chose a seniority system. Can you describe some of the other options considered? Did you consider a coin toss? Casting lots? Drawing straws? Rolling dice? Cutting cards? Eenie, meeney, miney, moe?
- Has the Department of Corrections asked the two prisoners who could be injected later if they would prefer to be electrocuted now?
- Do you have any standby plans if the chemicals don’t work as quickly as intended during the execution? What are the plans?
- Did your legal counsel advise you about the Wilson claims now before the Kenton Circuit Court or the lethal injection protocol issues in Judge Phillip Shepherd’s court before you signed the execution warrant?
- The wording of the execution warrant you signed seems to indicate you have also denied a clemency petition before it has been filed. Is this correct? If not, would you seriously consider clemency for a defendant who has mental retardation and was left to defend himself during his trial, while his white female co-defendant (involved sexually with another judge in the same court) had a defense and was sentenced to life and is eligible for parole in two or three years?