More than a year ago, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals violated the Constitution in rejecting the claim by an inmate, Bobby Moore, that he is intellectually disabled and thus ineligible for the death penalty.
And yet today Moore, now 60, remains on death row, facing solitary confinement for more than 23 hours a day.
And two Texas politicians want to know why.
In 1980, Moore was involved in an attempted robbery of a grocery store in Houston and convicted of the murder of an elderly store worker, James McCarble, during the crime.
The state of Texas, which executes more people than any other state in the U.S., gave Moore the death penalty as a punishment. But the case has gone through several rounds of appeals, mostly around whether the courts that convicted Moore considered his intellectual disabilities when handing down his sentence.
In 2014 a Harris County, Texas, trial court determined that Moore is intellectually disabled. The 2002 Supreme Court case Atkins v. Virginia ruled that the Constitution prohibits imposing the death penalty on any person who is intellectually disabled. However, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals concluded that Moore was not intellectually disabled and that his death sentence must remain in place.
That ruling was appealed, and in March 2017, in Moore v. Texas, the Supreme Court emphatically rejected the ruling. Moreover, the prosecutors in the case agreed that Moore is intellectually disabled and may not receive the death penalty.
The high court held that Texas courts, like all courts in the country, must use current medical standards to evaluate intellectual disability claims in capital cases. In a decision that left no doubt about Moore’s intellectual disability, the court explained that Moore’s very low IQ score was well within the clinically established range for intellectual disability. The Supreme Court also emphasized the “considerable objective evidence” of Moore’s adaptive problems, another characteristic of intellectual disability. For example, at age 13, Moore did not even understand the days of the week, the months of the year, the seasons, or how to tell time [emphasis ours].
In December of last year, prosecutors asked that the then-58-year-old be resentenced.
However, more than a year after the March 28 decision, Moore remains on death row. And not only that, but Moore is automatically kept in solitary confinement 23 hours a day, an action proved to be especially cruel to those with intellectual disabilities.
Texas state Reps. Senfronia Thompson and Joe Moody wrote in a recent editorial:
If the CCA needs more time to fashion a new standard for evaluating intellectual disability claims in Texas, it should at least issue an interim order striking down Moore’s death penalty immediately and allowing him to be moved off of death row and out of solitary confinement. Such an order would give effect to the Supreme Court’s decision, remove the specter of an unconstitutional death sentence and allow Moore to return to the general prison population.
They added: “The time has come for the CCA to do justice in Bobby Moore’s case. More than a year since the Supreme Court’s decision in his favor, it is long past time for him to be moved off of death row and out of solitary confinement.”