Lawyers: Arkansas death row inmate is mentally ill, should live
LITTLE ROCK — Lawyers for an Arkansas man scheduled to be executed next month said Monday that his life should be spared because he suffered sexual abuse while institutionalized as a child and he is mentally ill.
The Arkansas Parole Board will hold a hearing Wednesday for Jack Greene, who is scheduled to die Nov. 9 for the 1991 killing of Sidney Jethro Burnett after Burnett and his wife accused Greene of arson.
In an appeal for clemency to the parole board, Greene’s lawyers wrote that his execution would violate the U.S. Constitution, which bars cruel and unusual punishment.
“Jack is mentally diseased and his execution would not be just. It would only bring shame on the state of Arkansas,” they wrote.
Lawyers for the state say Burnett’s family deserves justice and that the execution should take place.
Greene has said he has suffered torture for 13 years and that his central nervous system was destroyed.
His lawyers contend that while he’s suffering delusions, Greene stuffs tissues into his nose and ears. A lawyer who previously worked for Greene, Dale Adams, said in an affidavit: “Based on my interactions with him, I concluded that Jack was crazy. I don’t mean that he was a little off; he was completely nuts.”
According to the lawyers, Greene comes from a family with a long history of mental illness. They wrote that his father committed suicide when Greene was 18 months old in the room where Greene was sleeping. At age 11, Greene’s grandfather sent him to a notorious youth home in North Carolina.
“Still very much a child, he was forced to endure brutal physical and sexual abuse at the hands of older children and adult staff members,” they wrote.
In an affidavit filed by the lawyers, a sister of Greene’s, Mary Ellen Blankenship, said the family was so poor they once lived in a converted chicken coop and their mother wouldn’t let others intervene.
“There were other people that wanted to take one of us kids,” she wrote. “Momma wouldn’t let any of us go; she used to say, ‘I wouldn’t give a plug nickel for any one of you, but I wouldn’t take a nickel for you either.’”
Authorities say Greene beat Burnett with a can of hominy before stabbing him and slitting his throat, three days after killing his own brother in North Carolina. The inmate’s lawyers say Greene believed his brother contributed to their mother’s death by sending an ambulance away after she overdosed on prescription medication.