EXTERNAL (for general distribution) AI Index: AMR 51/06/92
UA 10/92 Death Penalty 8 January 1992
USA (Arkansas): Ricky Ray RECTOR
Ricky Ray Rector is scheduled to be executed by the state of Arkansas on 24
January 1992. Rector, who is black, was convicted in 1982 of the murder in
November 1981 of Bob Martin, a white police officer who was investigating
Rector's involvement in another homicide.
After shooting Bob Martin, Rector attempted to take his own life by shooting
himself in the head. The bullet wound, and subsequent surgery to remove the
bullet from Rector's head resulted in a frontal lobotomy (the loss of a
three-inch section of his brain), leaving him mentally impaired. He suffered
memory loss and medical examinations revealed him to be severely limited in
his mental capacity. He was found to be unable to recognize or communicate
facts, and thus unable to assist his attorneys in his defence.
On 24 June 1991, the US Supreme Court denied Rector's final petition for federal
review of his conviction and death sentence. Justice Thurgood Marshall dissented
in a lengthy opinion, three days before he retired from the Court. Justice
Marshall argued that the Court should have granted review of Rector's petition
in order to decide a comprehensive definition of insanity or mental incompetence
for execution. He concluded, "Unavoidably, the question whether such persons
can be put to death once the deterioration of their faculties has rendered
them unable even to appeal to the law or the compassion of the society that
has condemned them is central to the administration of the death penalty in
Amnesty International is concerned that Ricky Rector'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
The Governor of Arkansas has full clemency authority. However, all clemency
applications are referred to the Board of Pardons and Paroles for investigation
and recommendation. The Arkansas Pardons Board will meet to consider a clemency
application on behalf of Ricky Rector on 14 January 1992.
At the end of 1991 there were 36 prisoners under sentence of death in Arkansas.
The method of execution is either electrocution or lethal injection. Two