Texas on Thursday executed a man convicted of fatally beating a mentally disabled woman -- after the U.S. Supreme Court rejected arguments that he has an IQ of 67 and should be exempt from the death penalty .
In his final statement before the lethal injection, Robert Ladd, 57, addressed the sister of his victim by name, telling her he was "really, really sorry."
Ladd was sentenced to death for hammering, strangling and setting ablaze 38-year-old Vicki Ann Garner in 1996 — while he was on parole for a 1980 stabbing and arson that killed a woman and two children.
Ladd's lawyers from the American Civil Liberties Union said his IQ fell below the threshold generally accepted for impairment, which prosecutors disputed.
"Texas aggressively pursued Mr. Ladd's execution, despite the fact that our constitution categorically prohibits the use of capital punishment against persons with intellectual disability," defense lawyer Brian Stull said in a statement.
"Mr. Ladd, whose IQ was 67, was executed because Texas uses idiosyncratic standards, based on stereotypes rather than science, to determine intellectual disability."
Opponents have pointed out that Texas decides which murder convicts are mentally eligible for the death penalty based on factors drafted by an appeals court that cited the simple-minded, child-like character of Lennie Small from the book "Of Mice and Men" as an example in its ruling.
Earlier this week, the Supreme Court also refused to stop the execution of a Georgia killer, Warren Lee Hill, who made a disability claim based on a low IQ.
The court has stopped the executions of three inmates who are challenging the drugs Oklahoma uses for lethal injections, and Ladd had also filed a separate appeal challenging the chemicals that will be used in his. However, the drug at issue in Oklahoma is midazolam, while Texas uses pentobarbital.
Material from The Associated Press was used in this report.