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Courts, Governor Reject Death Row Inmate's Pleas
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
January 17, 2006

SAN QUENTIN, CALIFORNIA--Clarence Ray Allen was executed in San Quentin State Prison early Tuesday morning, one day after he turned 76.

His execution by lethal injection came after the California Supreme Court, U.S. District Court, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, and the U.S. Supreme rejected his appeals.

Allen -- who had diabetes, used a wheelchair, was legally blind and nearly deaf, and experienced a heart attack in September -- had argued that, because of his age, disabilities and medical conditions, his execution would be "cruel and unusual punishment" in violation of the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution.

The appeals to the state courts and Schwarzenegger were rejected last week. The U.S. Supreme Court, which has never set an age limit for the death penalty or allowed an exception for illness or physical disability, rejected his appeal about 10 hours before he was put to death.

Allen was convicted in 1980 of hiring a hit man to kill a witness to a murder for which he had been previously convicted. The hit man ended up killing that witness and two bystanders.

Last week, Allen's attorneys had argued that the poor medical care he received during his 25 years on death row caused his health to deteriorate.

Allen, who was revived by prison staff when he had his September heart attack, signed a "do not resuscitate" order so that prison officials would not try to keep him alive if he had another heart attack before his execution.

According to news reports, Allen was brought into the death chamber in his wheelchair, but did walk the final steps -- with the help of two guards -- to the gurney.

Allen was the oldest California death row inmate and the second-oldest in the U.S. to be executed since the U.S. Supreme Court restored capital punishment 28 years ago. Last month, 77-year-old John B. Nixon was executed in Mississippi.

"Allen, 76, becomes oldest man executed on California death row" (San Diego Union-Tribune)
Commentary "Dead Man Wheeled In -- The Graying of Death Row" (Pacific News Service)

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