|Thompson v. Oklahoma|
|Argued November 9, 1987|
Decided June 29, 1988
|Full case name||William Wayne Thompson v. State of Oklahoma|
|Citations||487 U.S. 815 ( more )|
|Prior||Defendant tried as an adult and convicted of murder of his brother-in-law, who had been abusing his ex-wife, who was Thompson's sister; was found guilty; and was sentenced to death. Appealed to Court of Criminal Appeals of Oklahoma, decision affirmed. Appealed to U.S. Supreme Court, granted writ of certiorari.|
|The Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments forbid imposition of the death penalty on offenders who were under the age of 16 when their crimes were committed.|
|Plurality||Stevens, joined by Brennan, Marshall, Blackmun|
|Dissent||Scalia, joined by Rehnquist, White|
|Kennedy took no part in the consideration or decision of the case.|
|U.S. Const. amends. VIII, XIV|
Thompson v. Oklahoma, 487 U.S. 815 (1988), was the first case since the moratorium on capital punishment was lifted in the United States in which the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the death sentence of a minor on grounds of "cruel and unusual punishment." The holding in Thompson was expanded on by Roper v. Simmons (2005), where the Supreme Court extended the "evolving standards" rationale to those under 18 years old.
Capital punishment, also known as the death penalty, is a government-sanctioned practice whereby a person is killed by the state as a punishment for a crime. The sentence that someone be punished in such a manner is referred to as a death sentence, whereas the act of carrying out the sentence is known as an execution. Crimes that are punishable by death are known as capital crimes, capital offences or capital felonies, and they commonly include serious offences such as murder, mass murder, aggravated cases of rape, child rape, child sexual abuse, terrorism, treason, espionage, offences against the State, such as attempting to overthrow government, piracy, aircraft hijacking, drug trafficking and drug dealing, war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide, and in some cases, the most serious acts of recidivism, aggravated robbery, and kidnapping, but may include a wide range of offences depending on a country. Etymologically, the term capital in this context alluded to execution by beheading.
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William Wayne Thompson was a 15-year-old repeat offender from Grady County, Oklahoma. His sister, Vicki, was married to Charles Keene, who was accused of beating Vicki and William. William and three other men (Tony Mann, Richard Jones and Bobby Glass) then kidnapped Charles on the night of January 23, 1983 in Amber, Oklahoma. Charles attempted to escape, running to neighbor John "Possum" Brown's door. He reportedly knocked on the door and screamed, "Possum, open the door, they're going to kill me". Brown opened the door, only to see four men dragging Keene from the door and beating him. When Brown called the police, the assailants grabbed Keene and fled.
Recidivism is the act of a person repeating an undesirable behavior after they have either experienced negative consequences of that behavior, or have been trained to extinguish that behavior. It is also used to refer to the percentage of former prisoners who are rearrested for a similar offense.
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Keene's body was found later in the nearby river, his body split throat to abdomen. He had multiple bruises and two gunshot wounds, along with a concrete block tied to his legs. William was arrested after Vicki confessed to the police that William said that "he had taken care of him." The three other assailants were convicted of murder and sentenced to death; Richard Jones later had his sentence repealed. Bobby Glass was murdered in prison. After Thompson was arrested he underwent psychiatric evaluation to determine whether he was eligible to stand trial as an adult. He was found responsible for his deeds and convicted by the District Court of Grady County in Chickasha, Oklahoma. He was sentenced to death by the jury.
Chickasha is a city in and the county seat of Grady County, Oklahoma, United States. The population was 16,036 at the 2010 census. Chickasha is home to the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma. The city is named for and strongly connected to Native American heritage, as "Chickasha" (Chikashsha) is the Choctaw word for Chickasaw.
Thompson's attorneys first attempted to appeal the case on the basis of inflammatory photographs used by the prosecution to allegedly provoke the jury. Although the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals found that two of the photographs should have been excluded from the trial, the overwhelming evidence meant that the case was affirmed by the appellate court.
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