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Robert Wayne Holsey Executed After Appeals Exhausted; Inmate Asked for Forgiveness Before Dying

Robert Wayne Holsey
Robert Wayne Holsey was executed on Dec. 2, 2014. |

The state of Georgia executed Robert Wayne Holsey on Tuesday night after all appeals were exhausted, but before dying, Holsey apologized for his crime and asked the family of his homicide victim for forgiveness.

"Mr. Robinson, I'm sorry for taking your son's life that night," Holsey told the father of Deputy Will Robinson, according to witness and WMAZ reporter Randall Savage. "I hope you can find it in your heart to forgive me and my family."

Holsey murdered Deputy Robinson in 1995 after robbing a convenience store. Just two years later, he was found guilty and sentenced to death. However, there were several appeals for his life to be spared, especially after his lawyer admitted to drinking nearly a quart of vodka per day during Holsey's trial. That lawyer was disbarred and sentenced to 10 years in jail for stealing client funds.

The state parole board denied his request for clemency but offered no explanation. Other lawyers argued that Holsey was not adequately represented during his trial, which should have been reason enough for a retrial or a stay of execution in order to present new evidence. His team also argued that Holsey was in the midst of a personal crisis and coping with alcoholism when he murdered Deputy Robinson.

His lawyers also argued that Holsey should not be executed because he had an intellectual disability that was not presented to the trial judge. They took their argument to the U.S. Supreme Court for a stay but lost.

"Robert Wayne Holsey is an intellectually disabled African-American man who was represented at trial by a chronic alcoholic who was more concerned about avoiding his own criminal prosecution than defending his client against the death penalty," attorney Brian Kammer said before the execution was carried out. "We will keep challenging the burden of proof that Georgia requires. It is too heavy. It is the heaviest burden of proof in the law and guarantees that the mentally ill will be executed."

Lately, the law has been concerned with the execution of mentally ill persons. In Texas, inmate Scott Panetti was granted a last-minute stay in order to allow his attorneys to obtain a mental evaluation; they contend Panetti suffers from schizophrenia and should not be executed. His case has garnered national attention and could set a new standard if Panetti is granted clemency.

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