Letter: Fletcher ignoring problems with Bowling execution

November 10, 2004

Dear Editor:

Gov. Ernie Fletcher has set a date of Nov. 30 for Kentucky's third execution since 1976. The condemned man is Thomas C. Bowling. He was found guilty of shooting Tina and Eddie Early in 1990.

Bowling is marginally retarded and thus incapable of helping much in his own defense. His clemency petition states that when he was a child, "his mother had to lay out his clothes and force him to get dressed for school. He continuously appeared to be in a 'dreamy' state as he stared into space and failed to respond to anyone who attempted to gain his attention. He could not comprehend his parent's instructions and had to be told what to do over and over again. Even into his teenage years, ... his parents had to force him to take showers and inspect him to make sure he was clean for school."

Bowling's trial lawyers did not raise this issue, and were generally ineffective. They failed to present any witnesses during the guilt/innocence stage of his trial.


The evidence against him is purely circumstantial. Prosecutors failed to establish any motive. No witness was able to pick Bowling out of a line-up. Ballistic evidence failed to link Bowling's gun to the shooting victims.

The lethal injection procedure used by Kentucky and many other states is often a form of torture. After injecting an anesthetic, the executioner then administers Pavulon, which induces complete muscular paralysis and lung collapse, and finally a chemical that causes a heart attack. Toxicology evidence indicates that Edward Lee Harper, the last person executed in Kentucky, was very likely conscious during his entire execution. He would have experienced the agony of drowning and of having a heart attack while Pavulon made it impossible for him to show his pain by a gesture or facial expression. The use of Pavulon in euthanizing animals is condemned as inhumane by the American Veterinary Medical Association. But the state of Kentucky is about to use it once more on a human being.

Governor Fletcher, a doctor and lay preacher, has been told about these problems, but he has decided to ignore them. Perhaps the good doctor is catering to his political base, the constituency that proclaims its dedication to "moral values."

Brian Cooney


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