Benjamin Cole Oklahoma

Benjamin Cole is scheduled to be executed by lethal injection in Oklahoma on October 20, 2022. (Photo: Oklahoma Department of Corrections)

Oklahoma Inmate Facing Execution After Supreme Court Rejects Appeal

Benjamin Cole's attorneys argue he is severely mentally ill and his condition has worsened in prison.

The United States Supreme Court on Wednesday rejected an eleventh-hour appeal by a severely mentally ill Oklahoma death row inmate scheduled to be executed by lethal injection Thursday.

Lawyers for Benjamin Cole, a 57-year-old sentenced to death for murdering his 9-month-old daughter Brianna Cole in 2002, do not deny that he killed the infant. However, they argue that his severe mental illness and brain damage--which they say have worsened during his imprisonment--are grounds for stopping his execution.

Both the United States Constitution and Oklahoma law prohibit the execution of mentally incompetent people. However, Oklahoma and other states continue to kill such individuals. Oklahoma is also infamous for a series of gruesome botched lethal injection killings.

Cole's attorneys say their client's condition "has deteriorated to the point that he is largely catatonic, cannot manage his own basic hygiene, and crawls on the cell floor if without a wheelchair."

However, the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board voted 4-1 to deny clemency to Cole, a decision that prompted his attorneys to appeal to the nation's highest court.

Earlier this month, capital punishment abolitionists marked the 20th World Day Against the Death Penalty by calling for an end to executions worldwide.

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