Oklahoma: Benjamin Cole executed – 2nd execution of 25 set in the U.S. state
On Thursday morning, 57-year-old Benjamin Robert Cole was executed by lethal injection by the state of Oklahoma. He was sentenced to death for the murder of his 9-month-old daughter 20 years ago.
Disturbed by her screaming while playing a video game, Cole had grabbed his daughter’s ankles while she was lying on her stomach and pinned them to her head, fracturing her spine and causing her to bleed to death, according to an affidavit.
Cole’s attorneys had argued that their client, who was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia, was severely mentally ill and did not understand the legal process that accompanied his execution.
In the two decades since the crime, moreover, the death row inmate’s mental condition had deteriorated so much that Cole was not “competent” to be executed, his attorneys said in a clemency petition. In addition to schizophrenia, he has a brain lesion related to Parkinson’s disease, lives in a largely “catatonic” state and barely speaks to anyone, including his own attorneys, the clemency petition said.
Cole’s mental health issues stretched back to his early childhood, when he grew up in a junkyard surrounded by rampant drug and alcohol abuse. Encouraged by the adults in his life, Cole had begun drinking as a young child, and one of Cole’s brothers testified that they got high from huffing gasoline at age 10. Cole was also verbally, physically and sexually abused for years, the petition said.