- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 28, 2008

JARRATT, Va. - A man whose lawyers said he was mentally disabled was executed last night for killing a convenience store owner in the first execution in Virginia in nearly two years.

Kevin Green, 31, who was convicted of the August 1998 slaying of Patricia Vaughan, was pronounced dead at 10:05 p.m. at Greensville Correctional Center in Jarratt.

Green declined to give a final statement, telling a prison official, “No, I don’t got nothing to say.”

Green’s execution was scheduled to begin at 9 p.m., but was delayed for about an hour when his attorneys attempted to get the federal judge to step in, Department of Corrections spokesman Larry Traylor said. Once Judge James R. Spencer of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia declined, the execution proceeded.

He was the third U.S. inmate to die since the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of lethal injection in April.

On May 6, Georgia became the first state to execute an inmate, ending a seven-month halt on capital punishment nationwide.

The U.S. Supreme Court and Gov. Tim Kaine refused yesterday to halt the execution.

Green shot Mrs. Vaughan and her husband Lawrence Vaughan while robbing their convenience store in rural Dolphin, about 50 miles south of Richmond. He fled with about $9,000.

Mrs. Vaughan, 53, died at the scene. Mr. Vaughan survived.

Police say Green confessed, telling them he and his nephew took a bus to Northern Virginia and blew all but $170 of the $9,000 they stole on prostitutes, marijuana and clothes.

His nephew, 16 at the time, pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 23 years in prison.

Green went to trial and was found guilty of robbery and capital murder and sentenced to death in 2000. A year later, the Virginia Supreme Court ordered a new trial because of juror problems. Green was convicted again in 2001 and again sentenced to death.

The Vaughan family has waited 10 years to see the sentence carried out.

“I feel like we’re the puppets and they’re being the puppeteers,” said Marsha Brown, one of the Vaughans’ two daughters. She watched Green’s execution with her father, sister, husband, stepmother and two local officials.

“It’s just a fine line between being hopeful and helpless,” she said earlier in the day. “I really regret that another life has to be involved - that an execution has to happen - but I just think it needs to be carried out.”

Green requested that prison officials not release the contents of his last meal, Mr. Traylor said. Mr. Traylor said Green did not meet with family or a spiritual adviser yesterday but did speak to his attorneys.

Green’s attorneys had based the request for a U.S. Supreme Court review on their contention that an appeals court erred when it ruled in February that Green had passed the statute of limitations for claiming ineffective trial counsel.

Their request for clemency from Mr. Kaine was based on the assertion that Green is mentally disabled. But Mr. Kaine said yesterday on a monthly call-in show on WTOP Radio that the courts have found Green is not mentally disabled.

Mr. Kaine, a Roman Catholic, has acknowledged an objection to the death penalty, but pledged when he was elected in 2005 to carry out the state’s laws.

A federal magistrate judge decided after a 2006 hearing that Green’s IQ was below the mental retardation threshold of 70 but that he could perform basic functions, such as getting a job and a driver’s license.

Attorneys for Green and groups that represent people with mental disabilities argue the judge erred because he focused on the things their client could do, instead of his limitations - such as language deficiencies, the inability to write and to care for himself, and difficulty with simple tasks like tying his shoes or making Kool-Aid.

Green was the 99th person executed in Virginia since the U.S. Supreme Court reinstated capital punishment in 1976. Virginia ranks second only to Texas, which has executed 405.

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