Originally published on Tue August 7, 2012 7:14 pm
There's a life-or-death drama unfolding in Texas tonight. It involves the death penalty, the Supreme Court and John Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men.
First the basics: Marvin Wilson, 54, is set to be executed by Texas tonight. He was convicted of the 1992 killing of a police informant. His attorneys however argue that a Supreme Court ban on the death penalty for the mentally impaired prohibits the state from going forward with tonight's execution and are asking the high court to step in.
Already in the spotlight over whether it executed one innocent man — Cameron Todd Willingham — in 2004, the state of Texas now faces questions about whether another man may have been wrongly condemned to death.
The past few years in Texas have seen a parade of DNA exonerations: more than 40 men so far. The first exonerations were big news, but the type has grown smaller as Texans have watched a dismaying march of exonerees, their wasted years haunting the public conscience.
Yet a case in Williamson County, just north of Austin, is raising the ante. Michael Morton had been sentenced to life in prison for murdering his wife. He was released six months ago — 25 years after being convicted — when DNA testing proved he was not the killer.