The Shameful Execution of Wayne Holsey

posted Dec 10, 2014, 7:19 AM by GFADP staff

Last night, Georgia executed Robert Wayne Holsey. I restate the facts of his case below because we must never forget. His case is an abomination and completely outrageous. This should never have been allowed to happen. If ever we needed a reminder of how important our work to end the death penalty in Georgia is-this is it. 

Wayne, as he was known, was a man represented by Mr. Prince, who during his trial, drank a quart of vodka each night – the equivalent of 21 shots. Shortly after Wayne was convicted and sentenced to death, Mr. Prince was disbarred and sentenced to 10 years (three in prison, seven on probation) for stealing client funds.

In addition to drinking a quart of vodka nightly throughout Wayne’s trial, Mr. Prince did not present evidence of Mr. Holsey’s intellectual disability and in fact, told the court that it wouldn’t be an issue. This was a stunning failure of representation: if Mr. Prince had shown that Wayne was intellectually disabled, his execution would be barred under Atkins v. Virginia (2002).

The night before the penalty phase of Wayne’s trial, Mr. Prince turned the case over to a less experienced attorney, who was unprepared to present mitigation evidence. Mr. Prince received $3,500 from the court to hire a mitigation specialist, but never did so and was unable to account for the money. Consequently, the jury never heard about the almost daily violence and abuse Wayne experienced in his childhood.

A Georgia habeas corpus judge found that Mr. Prince’s representation had been abysmal and ineffective, and cost Wayne a fair trial.  The habeas corpus judge also ordered a new sentencing trial. But the Georgia Supreme Court reversed the habeas judge’s decision, thus reinstating his death sentence. If Wayne had been represented by anyone other than Mr. Prince, who went to prison shortly after Wayne did, he would most likely not have been executed.

We extend the deepest gratitude to the legal team for their incredible efforts representing Wayne. 

Nights like last night are always difficult and are undoubtedly one of the hardest parts of fighting the death penalty.  They also remind us of the importance of our work together.  We remain hopeful in knowing that Georgians from all over the state were gathered in solidarity with Wayne as the state took his life.  Thank you to each of you who attended a vigil, wrote a letter, or simply kept Wayne and his family in your thoughts and prayers. We will continue to organize for the end to this brutal system. 

I'm including the piece from the New York Times Editorial Board they released minutes after Wayne was executed entitled, Georgia’s Merciless Push to Kill: Injustice in Robert Wayne Holsey's Case 
Thank you for all that you do.
With sadness and hope,
Kathryn on behalf of GFADP