Georgia Man Faces Execution Despite Intellectual Disability and Remorse

Atlanta, Georgia – Lawyers for Willie James Pye, who is facing execution for the killing of his ex-girlfriend three decades ago, are seeking clemency for him based on claims of intellectual disability and remorse. Pye, now 59, is scheduled to be executed using pentobarbital on Wednesday, marking Georgia’s first execution in over four years. The clemency hearing is set for Tuesday, typically conducted in secret with the outcome announced afterward.

Pye’s defense team argues that crucial information about his intellectual disability, with an IQ of 68, was not presented to the jurors during his trial. They highlight the challenging circumstances Pye faced from birth, including poverty, neglect, and family violence, which they believe should have influenced the sentencing decision.

The lawyers also point out systemic issues in the Spalding County justice system during the 1990s and stress Pye’s positive impact on others while in prison. The case stems from the 1993 murder of Alicia Lynn Yarbrough, where Pye, along with accomplices, committed a series of crimes that culminated in Yarbrough’s death.

Despite Pye’s conviction and death sentence, his legal team contends that inconsistencies in witness statements and Pye’s own account suggest a different narrative of events. They highlight Pye’s impoverished upbringing and alleged brain damage, supporting their argument against his execution on the grounds of intellectual disability.

Pye’s case has seen legal challenges and appeals, with disagreements among judges about the adequacy of his representation during the trial. His accomplice, Chester Adams, accepted a plea deal in 1997 and is serving life sentences for his role in the crimes. The impending execution has sparked debate over Georgia’s use of the death penalty, with the state’s last execution dating back to January 2020.