Powerless to Help

A few cells away from Willie Manning sits David Cox, who is scheduled to be killed on November 17.

At Cox’s trial his lawyers failed to adequately communicate to the jury the impact of the extensive abuse that he suffered as a child: as well as poverty and neglect, he experienced parental abandonment and chronic exposure to pornography, and he witnessed his father sexually abusing his sister. Unsurprisingly, he turned to addictive substances, including methamphetamine, which damaged his brain. The consequence, according to a forensic psychologist, is that Cox’s rage, violence and impulse control problems are driven by brain dysfunction, and not by choice or character.

The harsh environment of Mississippi’s death row has been far from ideal for treating Cox’s mental disorder.

Cox states that he no longer wants assistance from his lawyers; they believe he is not mentally competent to make this judgment. A judge will soon decide if they can continue to appeal.

There have been no executions in Mississippi since Willie experienced the trauma of coming perilously close to execution in 2013. Inevitably, the looming execution date will bring back memories of that terrible time: the next few weeks will be far harder even than usual for him.

This period will also be traumatic for Cox’s lawyers, and for staff at the prison. It could even impact Cox’s jurors. It will do nothing to make the public safer.

The scheduling of Cox’s killing comes despite an ongoing lawsuit about Mississippi’s lethal injection protocol, and lack of transparency about the origins of the drugs that Mississippi has procured.

For Willie, Cox* is a living, breathing man that he sees every day; Willie is powerless to help him. That is very difficult to live with. Please think of them both.

*You can sign a petition on behalf of David Cox here.

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