Arizona's clemency board is set to consider a longtime death-row inmate's
request to reduce his sentence to life in prison or delay his execution
scheduled for Wednesday.
The 5-member board meets at a state prison in Florence on Friday to consider
the requests from Robert Henry Moormann, who has been on death row for 27
Moormann, 63, was serving nine years to life in prison in 1984 for kidnapping
an 8-year-old girl when the state let him out on 3-day "compassionate furlough"
to visit his 74-year-old adoptive mother Roberta at a nearby motel.
Moormann beat, stabbed and suffocated the woman before meticulously
dismembering her body. He went to various businesses asking if he could dispose
of spoiled meat and animal guts before he threw most of her remains in various
trash bins and sewers. He was captured soon thereafter.
The killing prompted the state to change its policy on compassionate furloughs.
Moormann said Roberta had molested him as a child, but that was never
corroborated. Those who knew the pair said Roberta was "at most ... an overly
protective mother who had an odd relationship with her son," according to court
Moormann told conflicting stories of Roberta's death, saying he accidentally
suffocated her during sex and later that she had begun sexually abusing him
again, prompting him to kill her in a fit of rage.
Medical examiners found no evidence of sexual contact between Moormann and
Roberta. They also found that she had been alive when she received cuts and
bruises covering her body and that "the dismemberment showed no rage, but
rather a methodical, meticulous activity," court records say.
Of the 130 inmates on Arizona's death row, only 6 have been there longer than
Moormann, who has had a slew of health problems over the years and most
recently was hospitalized last week.
His hospitalizations have included surgeries to remove his appendix and to
perform a quintuple bypass on his heart.
His attorney and prison officials declined to say what was wrong with him most
recently, but Department of Corrections spokesman Bill Lamoreaux said Moormann
was back in prison and expected to attend the clemency hearing.
On Thursday, a federal judge declined to delay Moormann's execution and that of
another death-row inmate , Robert Charles Towery, who is set to be executed
March 8. The ruling has been appealed to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals
in San Francisco.
The men's attorneys argue that the Arizona Department of Corrections' new
execution protocol, released last month, violates the inmates' constitutional
protections against cruel and unusual punishment. They argue that the new
protocol gives too much discretion to corrections Director Charles Ryan,
improperly loosens requirements for the people who inject the lethal drugs, and
prevents attorneys from meeting with the inmates the day of their execution.
U.S. District Judge Neil Wake disagreed, saying that the new protocol does not
pose a substantial risk of subjecting either inmate to cruel and unusual
punishment, and that he has every reason to believe that the execution team has
been properly vetted and is properly trained in inserting intravenous lines.
Moormann's lawyers filed a motion Tuesday asking the Arizona Supreme Court to
delay his execution until a hearing can be held on his mental capacity.
The attorneys say Moormann was diagnosed in early childhood as being mentally
disabled, and the state cannot legally execute him. Arizona law prohibits the
mentally disabled from being put to death, and a 2002 U.S. Supreme Court
decision found that executing mentally disabled inmates amounts to cruel and
State prosecutors argue in court documents that a doctor evaluating Moormann in
1998 found that he had an estimated IQ of between 70 and 90, and that Arizona
considers a person mentally disabled only if the IQ is 70 or less.
Prosecutors say that at trial, another doctor estimated Moormann's IQ to be at
94 and testified that he was not mentally disabled.
A jury convicted Moormann of first-degree murder after two hours of
deliberations, rejecting his insanity defense.
Although the trial judge did find that Moormann had an impaired ability to
understand right from wrong, he cited several reasons why Moormann deserved the
death penalty, including that the murder was especially heinous and cruel.
The last inmate to be executed in Arizona was Thomas Paul West, who was put to
death July 19 for the beating death of another man in a 1987 robbery.
(source: Associated Press)