The Vatican has asked Gov. Steve Beshear to commute the death sentence of Gregory Wilson to life in prison without parole.
A letter, written by the Papal Nuncio on behalf of Pope Benedict XVI (download the .pdf here), was hand delivered to Beshear today by the archbishop of Louisville, Most Reverend Joseph E. Kurtz. Citing “the serious legal issues about his trial and the adequacy of his counsel” as well as his assertion that he’s mentally retarded, on behalf of Kentucky’s 400,000 Catholics,they joined with Pope Benedict XVI to ask Gov. Beshear to commute Wilson’s sentence.
In a letter thanking Beshear for meeting with them (download the .pdf here), the bishops wrote,
We reiterate the Church’s stance that the use of the death penalty in modern societiy is both cruel and unnecessary. Our late Holy Father Pope John Paul II made a compelling argument that while states may have a right to use the death penalty as a way to safeguard society against an unjust aggressor; modern societies have the means to both protect society and allow for redemption through a less violent and final remedy.
Wilson is scheduled to be executed via lethal injection at the Kentucky State Penitentiary in Eddyville on Sept. 16. He was sentenced to death in 1988 for the murder, rape and kidnapping of Deborah Pooley.
In the past two weeks, the Courier-Journal, Lexington Herald-Leader and Owensboro Messenger-Inquirer have run articles questioning Wilson’s pending execution, notably because of his inadequate representation at trial and his scoring 62 on an IQ test.
A Franklin Circuit Judge, having already said there’s no “good answer” on whether Wilson is mentally retarded, is set to rule by the end of this week on an appeal that challenges how the commonwealth adopted its administrative procedure for conducting an execution.