EXTRA 43/92 - USA (Florida): death penalty: Edward Kennedy, Nollie Martin
EXTERNAL (for general distribution) AI Index: AMR 51/51/92
14 April 1992
EXTRA 43/92 Death Penalty
USA (Florida): Edward KENNEDY
Edward Kennedy and Nollie Martin are scheduled to be executed by the state
of Florida, USA, on 29 April 1992 and 6 May 1992 respectively.
Edward Kennedy, black, aged 47, was sentenced to death in January 1982 for
the kidnap, robbery and murder of two white police officers in April 1981.
Nollie Martin, white, aged 43, was sentenced to death in November 1978 for
the kidnap, robbery and murder of a white female. Although he did not testify
at his trial, police alleged he admitted he had carried out the murder. A
co-defendant, who testified against Nollie Martin at the trial received a life
Nollie Martin suffers from brain damage and has a very low IQ of 59. He is
reported to suffer from paranoid delusions. Nollie Martin has expressed
uncertainty that he committed the crime. In 1986, however, he was found
competent to be executed after extensive tests were carried out by three
Amnesty International is concerned that Nollie Martin's execution may be in
contravention of United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) resolution
1989/64, adopted in May 1989, which recommends "...eliminating the death penalty
for persons suffering from mental retardation or extremely limited mental
competence, whether at the stage of sentence or execution."
In Florida the power to grant clemency in capital cases rests with the governor,
on the advice of a panel of three cabinet members. Clemency hearings take place
shortly after a prisoner is sentenced to death, when many avenues of appeal
still remain pending. The prisoner and his attorneys are generally not notified
of the outcome of the clemency hearing. If clemency is denied, the governor
will indicate this in due course by signing a warrant for the prisoner's
execution. Several years may elapse between the clemency hearing and the end
of a prisoner's legal appeals.
At the beginning of 1992, there were 314 prisoners under sentence of death
in Florida. Twenty-seven prisoners have been executed by the state since the
death penalty was reintroduced in the mid 1970s. The most recent execution
was that of Bobby Francis on 25 June 1991. Execution in Florida is carried
out by electrocution.
Amnesty International opposes the death penalty in all cases as a violation
of the right to life and the right not to be subjected to cruel, inhuman or
degrading treatment or punishment, as proclaimed in the Universal Declaration
of Human Rights.
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RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send faxes/telephone calls/express and airmail
- urging Governor Chiles to grant clemency to Edward Kennedy and Nollie Martin,
by commuting their death sentences;
- expressing concern that Nollie Martin has been sentenced to death and is
scheduled to be executed, despite his long history of mental illness and his
very low IQ, citing UN ECOSOC resolution 1989/64 which calls on states not
to execute "persons suffering from mental retardation or extremely limited
- expressing deep concern at Florida's continued use of the death penalty,
and urging the state to consider alternative punishments which are more in
keeping with the principles and values of a civilized society.
1. The Honorable Lawton Chiles
Governor of Florida
Tallahassee, FL 32399-0001
Telephone: +1 904 488 2272
Faxes: +1 904 487 0801
COPIES OF YOUR APPEALS TO:
Miami Herald Publishing Co.
1 Herald Plaza
Miami, FL 33101
Faxes: +1 305 376 8950
and to diplomatic representatives of the USA in your country.
PLEASE SEND APPEALS IMMEDIATELY. Check with the International Secretariat,
or your section office, if sending appeals after 5 May 1992.