Man who murdered his baby daughter and claimed not fit for execution set for death
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Prosecutors have ruled a man who killed his baby daughter will receive the lethal injection despite arguments he's not medically fit for execution.
In 2002, nine-month-old Brianna was brutally murdered by her father, Benjamin Robert Cole, from Oklahoma.
Two decades on and the 57-year-old's attorneys have argued Cole is not mentally or physically fit to be put to death by lethal injection.
However, on Wednesday, 19 October, the US Supreme Court denied Cole's attorneys' request to temporarily suspend the execution.
Cole killed his baby daughter on 20 December, 2002. According to the attorney general's office, he murdered the nine-month-old because she was distracting him from his Nintendo video game.
Cole admitted to the murder in a taped confession, saying he would 'regret his actions for the rest of his life'.
Despite being offered a plea deal of life in prison with no parole Cole refused because he believed it was 'God's will' he go to trial. He believed his 'story […] would transform Rogers County, and it would allow God to touch hearts and allow Benjamin to walk away from it all a free man,' the petition states.
Cole's attorneys claimed he had been mentally unwell since childhood after allegedly suffering from alcohol, verbal, physical and sexual abuse.
Cole is a diagnosed schizophrenic. He also has a lesion growing in his brain 'highly consistent' with Parkinson's Disease.
Cole's petition for clemency alleges the 57-year-old's mental health has further declined while he's been imprisoned in Oklahoma State Penitentiary and that he's been in a 'catatonic' state, isolated, 'not moving a muscle for hours on end' and bound to a wheelchair.
The attorneys also argued the 57-year-old's decision to not accept the plea deal was an example of his further mental deterioration.
A clinical psychologist said the murderer exists in his own 'mental universe'.
One of Cole's attorneys named Tom Hird stated: "Benjamin Cole is incapacitated by his mental illness to the point of being essentially non-functional.
"His own attorneys have not been able to have a meaningful interaction with him for years, and the staff who interact with him in the prison every day confirm that he cannot communicate or take care of his most basic hygiene. He simply does not have a rational understanding of why Oklahoma seeks to execute him."
Cole's attorneys also used information from a recent nationwide poll in their petition, which revealed Americans oppose the death penalty if it's used on people with mental illness.
If someone is diagnosed as 'insane' it is also illegal to execute them under Oklahoma law.
However, Attorney General John O’Connor ruled Cole is well enough - both physically and mentally - to be executed.
On 27 September, O'Connor stated: "Although his attorneys claim Cole is mentally ill to the point of catatonia, the fact is that Cole fully cooperated with a mental evaluation in July of this year.
"The evaluator, who was not hired by Cole or the State, found Cole to be competent to be executed and that ‘Mr. Cole does not currently evidence any substantial, overt signs of mental illness, intellectual impairment, and/or neuro-cognitive impairment.
"I am grateful that the Board denied Cole’s request for executive clemency. Our thoughts and prayers are with the other members"
Assistant Attorney General Ashley Willis echoed: "He is not severely mentally ill. There is nothing in the constitution or jurisprudence that prevents his execution."
Brianna's aunt, Donna Daniel, told AP News: "The first time I got to see Brianna in person was lying in a casket.
"This baby deserves justice. Our family deserves justice."
Cole's execution is set to take place today (20 October) at 10:00am (CT).
If you’ve been affected by any of these issues and want to speak to someone in confidence regarding the welfare of a child, contact the NSPCC on 0808 800 5000, 8am–10pm Monday to Friday, 9am–6pm weekends. If you are a child seeking advice and support, call Childline for free on 0800 1111
If you have experienced a bereavement and would like to speak with someone in confidence, contact Cruse Bereavement Care via their national helpline on 0808 808 1677
Topics: News, Parenting, True crime, Crime, US News