Georgia Set To Execute Death Row Inmate Willie Pye, Whose Lawyers Claim He Has An Intellectual Disability

Georgia is preparing to execute its first inmate in over four years, despite pleas from the condemned man’s attorneys citing concerns over his intellectual disability and troubled upbringing.

Willie Pye’s legal team argues that crucial evidence regarding his background, including intellectual disability, was never presented to the jury during his trial.

While three of Pye’s jurors now oppose his execution, citing these overlooked factors, the state parole board rejected his clemency petition after thoroughly reviewing the case.

Litigation is still ongoing that could potentially halt Pye’s execution, a common occurrence as death row inmates pursue all available avenues up to the last minute, sometimes reaching the US Supreme Court.

If the lethal injection proceeds as scheduled, it will mark Georgia’s first execution since January 2020, following a hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Pye, aged 59, was convicted of multiple charges including murder, kidnapping, armed robbery, burglary, and rape in connection with the 1993 killing of Alicia Lynn Yarbrough, with whom he had a tumultuous relationship.

His clemency petition highlights the ineffective assistance of his trial attorney, who was handling numerous cases concurrently and failed to adequately represent Pye. The attorney’s overwhelming caseload compromised Pye’s defense.

Evidence of Pye’s intellectual disability, with an IQ of 68, and his challenging upbringing marked by poverty, neglect, and violence, were not adequately presented during his trial.

Georgia’s stringent requirement for proving intellectual disability beyond a reasonable doubt presents a significant hurdle for defendants like Pye, setting an unusually high burden of proof.

Despite appeals, Pye’s conviction and sentence have been upheld in both state and federal courts, although there have been challenges regarding his attorney’s performance during the sentencing phase.

The heinous nature of the crime, including abduction, robbery, rape, and murder, resulted in Pye receiving a death sentence, along with additional life sentences.

While Pye’s accomplices received life sentences, he faces execution pending the outcome of ongoing legal proceedings.