Tuesday, November 15, 2011

R.I.P. Reginald Brooks

Roman Colosseum lit to protest an execution
On November 15, 2011, Ohio executed Reginald Brooks, age 66, who killed his three sons while they slept in their East Cleveland home in 1982.  Brooks was an undiagnosed paranoid schizophrenic who suffered from mental illness long before he shot his sons, ages 11, 15, and 17, and had delusions that his boys were going to harm him.  He exhibited symptoms for years but he was unable to get treatment that his wife sought because he had not yet been violent.

His lawyers raised serious issues about his competency to be executed as he did not remember nor believe that he had killed his boys.  His delusions had transformed into bizarre conspiracies about how they really were murdered including a look‑a‑like and that he was framed for the murders.  During the competency litigation in state court, the prosecutors were finally forced to turn over police reports and witness statements that had never been provided to any of Brooks' previous counsel. These documents prove that Mr. Brooks was actively psychotic at the time of the homicides.  The state conceded that Brooks was mentally ill but maintained this did not excuse the murders or render him incompetent to be executed.  However, one of the judges from the original three judge panel that imposed death reviewed this new information and stated that had he known that Mr. Brooks was actively psychotic at the time of the homicides he would not have sentenced him to death.

This was the 40th execution in the United States in 2011, the fifth in Ohio.  Brooks is the fifteenth African American to be executed this year.


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