This afternoon, the United States Supreme Court granted a stay of
execution for a convicted triple-murderer. Glenn Holladay's lawyer says
with an IQ of 69, his client is mentally retarded. So the high court
agreed to review the claim that mentally retarded inmates should not be
put to death.
Tonight in a "First on Five Report," Herman Hall talked
with the mother of a mentally retarded inmate from Mobile who says her
son was unjustly put to death.
Each time the federal government goes through with high-profile
executions, like those of Juan Garza and Timothy McVeigh, or anytime the
state of Alabama carries out a state ordered execution, it makes Grace
Singleton Bolden uncomfortable. Alabama executed her mentally retarded
son, Cornelius Singleton in 1992. "A lot of my family members say,
'Just let it go Grace; let it go.' I can't until I clear Neil's name. If
I die trying like you say, I put up a good fight."
It's been almost a full nine years since Grace Singleton Bolden's son
Cornelius Singleton died in Alabama's electric chair. He was convicted
of killing a Catholic nun in the late 70's. Mrs. Bolden speaks against
the death penalty, even more so when it involves the mentally retarded.
Her passion was inspired by her son's situation, but it extends beyond
him. "When they're mentally retarded, put 'em where they can't hurt
nobody else...I'm not just going for Neil now, 'cause I can't help Neil
no more, no more than clear his name."
One of her many fights against the death penalty included protesting
Alabama's order to execute the now freed, Michael Pardue. Mrs. Bolden
believes evidence existed before her son's execution that may have set
him free. Since then, she still says that same evidence (and more) can
now be used to exonerate his name.
Through it all, aside from Cornelius being her son and a mentally
retarded man the State put to death, Mrs. Bolden is clinging to his
innocence. "It's a lot of folks know Neil was innocent, but the
right people just wouldn't listen."
With assistance from attorneys and anti-death penalty agencies, Mrs.
Bolden plans to continue her journey, hoping to prove her son, Cornelius
Singleton, did not commit the crime for which he was put to death.
However, she believes if it is to happen, she will need the help of
media and officials outside of Alabama.