Thomas Bowling faces execution in Kentucky as early as November, despite his mental retardation, and critical evidence that may establish his innocence still being withheld. 116 people have been freed from death row because of innocence. The withholding of crucial evidence has been a major factor. Bowling may be another innocent person.
Dear Governor Fletcher:
We, the undersigned,
respectfully request that you grant clemency to Thomas C. Bowling, a mentally retarded death row inmate whose case is marred by lingering doubt over his guilt.
Mr. Bowling suffered from intellectual and adaptive disabilities that were beyond his control from early in life. It was 18 months before he began to walk. Toilet training was difficult. His parents had to lay his clothes out for him and make sure he bathed.
Mr. Bowling also was a slow learner throughout school. He had a low I.Q. and spent 3 years in the ninth grade. He even failed health class three years in a row. Yet, he tried in school and couldn't succeed. His neighbors and teachers remember Mr. Bowling as a nice child who just needed extra help and special education. But, special education was not fully developed at the time. As a result, Mr. Bowling fell through the cracks.
We believe that Mr. Bowling's intellectual and adaptive deficits make him less deserving of execution. The death penalty is supposed to be reserved for the worst of the worst. It is supposed to serve the purpose of deterence and retribution. Executing Mr. Bowling, a mentally retarded person with significant intellectual deficits
serves no purpose and no longer should be permitted in a civilized society such as ours.
Mentally retarded people are easily led as was Mr. Bowling. They are more likely to be blamed for crimes. They are more likely to be convicted for a crime they did not commit. And, they are less likely to be able to help in their own defense. They become "prey" for the rest of society. That may be what happened to Mr. Bowling. At the least, questions remain about his guilt.
Bowling had no motive whatsoever to kill the Earleys who were strangers to him. The only evidence linking Bowling to the crime was his car, which was driven by the gunman. At the time of the crime, Bowling was drunk at an apartment frequented by drug dealers who may have used his car when committing the murders.
Tina and Eddie Earley’s murder coincided with “The Bluegrass Conspiracy,” a severely corrupt police department involved in international drug trafficking and murder. It is this police department that investigated Mr. Bowling for murdering the Earleys.
The Earleys likely were killed because they had provided police with information on one of the dealers which had led to his arrest. The extent of the Earleys’ involvement with these drug dealers has never been fully determined as members of the police department were also involved with them and intentionally protected them to avoid exposure.
No court has looked at the possibility that a drug dealer committed the murders. No court has addressed the connection with the "Bluegrass Conspiracy." No court has addressed evidence that has been concealed from Mr. Bowling. No court has addressed prosecutorial misconduct in Mr. Bowling's case. No court has addressed Mr. Bowling's potential innocence.
Across the country, 116 people have been freed from death row in recent years because of their innocence. Prosecutorial misconduct –including the withholding of crucial evidence—has been one of the major factors in these exonerations, according to the leading authority on the issue, The Death Penalty Information Center.
We believe that no person should be executed without having the opportunity to present evidence of his innocence, and that no person should be executed when there are doubts about his guilt. Mr. Bowling's case presents such doubts. Therefore, we request that you grant him clemency to ensure that Mr. Bowling does not become the first innocent man put to death in this country.
In addition, Kentucky has problems administering a lethal injection. Evidence shows that the Commonwealth fails to administer a sufficient quantity of thiopental to induce unconsciousness. Kentucky administers 2 grams of thiopental, which is the same concentration that has proven to be extremely problematic during Kentucky’s execution of Edward Lee Harper, and also in many North Carolina and South Carolina executions.
Witnesses have reported that it took at least ten minutes to find a vein in Edward Harper. When the execution began, Edward Lee Harper’s face turned purple and puffy when he was executed in Kentucky in 1999. Toxicology reports prove that there was between a 67% and 100% likelihood that he was conscious throughout his execution.
In South Carolina, toxicology reports have revealed that two inmates were conscious during their execution, another had a 90% probability that he was conscious during his execution while three others inmates had approximately a 50% probability of being conscious during their executions. The toxicology studies preformed by the South Carolina Department of Law Enforcement (SLED) Toxicology Section revealed that, beginning in 1998, thiopental detected in the blood of executed inmates dropped to alarmingly low levels suggesting that inmates were conscious during their execution causing them to experience the agony of a chemically induced suffocation and heart attack. These numbers show that since 1998, the South Carolina Department of Corrections has botched almost one out of every two executions it conducted. Similar results have been documented in North Carolina, where at least two inmates had a 100% probability of consciousness.
If a condemned inmate is conscious during a lethal injection, the inmate will feel the excruciating pain caused by the chemicals. The second drug, pavulon, according to government experts in Georgia and Ohio, is utilized to paralyze the condemned inmate’s body so that witnesses are unable to observe the condemned inmate convulsing and shaking uncontrollably. While pavulon paralyzes the body making it appear that the inmate peacefully goes to sleep, in reality, the opposite is occurring. Pavulon collapses the lungs and other internal organs; thereby, causing the condemned inmate to suffocate to death in the same manner as someone sitting in a gas chamber or drowning. For this reason, Pavulon has been found inhumane for the euthanasia of animals in Kentucky, at least eighteen other states, and by the American Veterinary Medical Association.
We believe that executing a person using a chemical that is banned in the euthanasia of animals is barbaric and should not be tolerated. The possibility that a condemned inmate could be consciously suffering pain during the execution deserves further investigation. Mr. Bowling's execution should not be permitted until it can be guaranteed that Mr. Bowling is not likely to suffer excruciating pain during his death. It is bad enough to inflict such pain on a guilty individual. But, it is even worse to inflict excruciating pain on a mentally retarded person, particularly one who may be innocent.
Our deepest sympathies go out to the families of Tina and Eddie Earley. But, taking Mr. Bowling's life is not the answer. He suffers from significant intellectual deficits and susbstantial questions about his guilt remain. Because of this, Mr. Bowling's execution would be unjust.
We urge you to show mercy. We urge you to grant clemency
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