Age, Infirmity Cited in Bid to Block Execution

Associated Press
Saturday, January 14, 2006

SAN FRANCISCO, Jan. 13 -- California's oldest death row inmate -- who is 75, legally blind and nearly deaf -- is asking the Supreme Court to do something it has never done before: block an execution because of the condemned man's advanced age and infirmity.

Clarence Ray Allen's attorneys contend that executing a feeble old man amounts to cruel and unusual punishment, which is banned by the Constitution.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) denied Allen clemency on Friday. Barring a last-minute reprieve from the courts, the governor's decision means Allen will become the second-oldest person put to death since the Supreme Court allowed the resumption of capital punishment in 1976. He is set to die by injection on Tuesday for ordering three slayings while behind bars for another murder.

Allen, who will turn 76 on the eve of his execution, has been on death row for more than 23 years. He uses a wheelchair and was resuscitated last year after a heart attack at San Quentin Prison.

"The spectacle of Mr. Allen being wheeled into the death chamber, unable to walk and unable to see those who have come to witness his execution, violates all standards of decency and would amount to nothing more than the purposeless and needless imposition of pain and suffering prohibited by the Eighth Amendment," said Annette Carnegie, one of Allen's attorneys.

Schwarzenegger said Allen's age and health do not matter, noting that he committed his crimes at the age of 50. "His conduct did not result from youth or inexperience, but instead resulted from the hardened and calculating decisions of a mature man," the governor said.

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