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Texas death row inmate asks Supreme Court for stay citing his age at time of murder

Texas death row inmate asks Supreme Court for stay citing his age at time of murder
Billy Joe Wardlow, 45, is scheduled to be executed July 8 for the death of 82-year-old Carl Cole in 1993.  File Photo courtesy of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice

June 23 (UPI) -- Lawyers for a Texas death row inmate have asked the Supreme Court for a stay of execution pending the outcome of his appeal citing brain science.

Billy Joe Wardlow, 45, is scheduled to be executed July 8 for the death of 82-year-old Carl Cole in 1993.

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Earlier this month, Wardlow asked the Supreme Court to review his case in light of a 2005 ruling in which the high court outlawed the death penalty for people who committed murder when they were 17 years old or younger. The justices cited research that said that juveniles lacked the maturity and responsibility of an adult, and thus shouldn't be subject to the death penalty.

Wardlow cited scientific research to suggest that people who commit murder under the age of 21 also shouldn't receive the death penalty. He was 18 at the time he killed Cole.

"Neuroscientific research has established with scientific certainty that because of continuing brain development until sometime in our early 20s, the neurological basis for a person's character, and hence his or her character, is not fully formed prior to the age of 21," said Monday's filing seeking a stay.

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"Because of this, it is now clear that there can be no reliable prediction concerning future dangerousness for a person who has committed capital murder prior to the age of 21."

Wardlow's lawyers said that because they believe he's likely to succeed in his appeal, the Supreme Court should stay his pending execution.

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