Sign up for The Brief, The Texas Tribune’s daily newsletter that keeps readers up to speed on the most essential Texas news.
Texas executed Gary Green on Tuesday evening despite questions about whether his intellectual disability and history of mental illness should disqualify him from a death sentence.
Green, 51, was convicted in 2010 for the murder of his wife, Lovetta Armstead, and her 6-year-old daughter, Jazzmen Montgomery, the year before. After Green learned that his wife wanted to annul their marriage, he fatally stabbed Armstead and drowned Montgomery in a bathtub, according to court filings. Green turned himself into the police and confessed to the killings.
"I took not one, but two people that we all loved, and I had to live with that while I was here. I ask that you forgive me, not for me but for y’all. I’m fixing to go home and y’all are going to be here. I want to make sure you don’t suffer. You have to forgive me to heal and move on," Green said in his final statement. He was pronounced dead at 7:07 p.m. Tuesday.
Green’s lawyers wrote to Dallas County District Attorney John Creuzot in late February asking him to join their request to delay Green’'s execution so he could undergo further tests of his intellectual disability. Creuzot did not join the motion.
While experts testified at his trial that Green likely had schizoaffective disorder, his lawyers say his defense counsel did not adequately look at how the condition impacted his life, or what role it played in the murders. Under Texas law, jurors are allowed to consider mitigating evidence such as mental illness when deciding on a death sentence. Green appealed to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, which upheld his conviction and death sentence.
“An explanation of Green’s manifestation of schizoaffective disorder would have aided the jury in weighing Green’s moral culpability for his offense,” Michael Mowla, one of Green’s attorneys, said in a statement. “It is clear from Green’s statements that his mental state at the time of the crime was heavily influenced by his severe and persistent mental illness, especially as filtered through his severe cognitive limitations."
The U.S. Supreme Court in 2002 prohibited the execution of people with intellectual disabilities. Texas defines intellectual disability based on low IQ scores, with 70 generally considered a threshold; how inmates interact with others and care for themselves; and whether deficiencies in those areas occurred before the age of 18. The lowest IQ score that Green submitted in his state proceedings was 78, placing him in the “borderline” range of intellectual functioning.
Green planned to “take five lives,” he wrote in a letter to Armstead. On the day of the killings, Armstead’s sons, then ages 9 and 12, persuaded him not to kill them, according to court filings. Green then attempted suicide by consuming a large amount of Tylenol and Benadryl. When Green turned himself in to the police hours later, he said he believed the family was plotting against him.
One month before the killings, Green tried to get help at Timberlawn psychiatric hospital in Dallas. He was incorrectly diagnosed, discharged after four days and later unable to continue the antipsychotic medication he was prescribed because of cost.
Green was also involved in an ongoing legal battle over the state’s use of expired drugs to kill prisoners. With fewer pharmacies willing to produce execution drugs, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice has for years extended the use-by dates for lethal injections, which could make the process more painful.
Inmates say the state prison system should not be allowed to extend the expiration dates of its execution drugs. They claim this practice violates the U.S. Constitution’s prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment.