Catholic bishops and religious leaders call on Sisolak to hold thanksgiving hearing for Floyd
Bishops representing 650,000 Catholics in the Dioceses of Las Vegas and Reno call on Governor Steve Sisolak, a devout self-proclaimed Catholic, to convene the Council of Pardons and spare the life of convicted killer Zane Floyd.
Floyd’s attorneys argue he should spend the rest of his life in jail because jurors who sentenced him to death in a 1999 shooting that left four people dead in a Las Vegas Albertsons were unaware of his mental disabilities. He was 23 at the time.
The Nevada Pardons Board failed to put a request for pardon on his agenda this week. Sisolak, who has wide latitude to bring cases before the Commission, did not respond to a request for comment.
Floyd was born with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and suffered from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder due to his “violent upbringing … aggravated after his honorable service in our country as a Navy, stationed at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba”, according to the petition.
“If the jury had received this information, one or more jurors might have voted to spare them from execution,” Federal Public Defender Brad Levenson wrote in the petition.
Floyd’s mother was an alcoholic, who lost her first baby to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, which made her alcohol use worse, according to the petition.
“It was in this dysfunctional environment, a female drug addict and alcoholic who had received electroconvulsive therapy for psychological problems, that Zane was conceived. During the first months of her pregnancy, Valérie continued to drink, smoke cigarettes and marijuana, and abuse cocaine.
Floyd was also genetically predisposed to addiction and was using methamphetamine on the morning of the shooting, his lawyers say.
Floyd, who does not want to die, had asked in June that his execution be put on hold until the end of the Thanksgiving Council meeting this week. The next meeting is December 9th.
Appeals from Floyd’s execution are pending in state and federal courts. No execution date is foreseen.
At a press conference Thursday for the Nevada Coalition Against the Death Penalty, Rita Sloan of the Diocese of Reno’s Life, Peace and Justice Commission, said commission members had discussed at length the inability to Sisolak to take action. We are puzzled. Is it confusing to me that anyone can be in favor of the death penalty in our time except a Catholic?
“Do not permanently deprive the guilty of the possibility of redemption,” Auxiliary Bishop Gregory Gordon of the Diocese of Las Vegas wrote to Sisolak and the Council of Pardons, asking them to hold a pardoning audience.
Bishop Randolph Calvo and Bishop Daniel leaving Reno Mueggenborg, which is due to be installed on Friday, wrote to Sisolak and the Pardon Council that Floyd’s case has “additional dimensions that need to be considered by the Nevada Board of Pardons since it was not included in Mr. Floyd’s trial. Much like the mental retardation case, which provides additional moral and constitutional grounds to oppose execution, Mr. Floyd’s mental health issues must be heard and provide sufficient mitigating circumstances to commute his prison sentence to life without parole. “
“There is no categorical ban on executing people with mental illness,” according to the Death Penalty Information Center“Legislatures in many states have considered bills creating such an exclusion, but none have yet been passed. ”
Despite his impairments, Floyd was successful during his military service, which included one year at Guantanamo Bay, according to the petition.
“With the exception of two alcohol-related incidents, Mr. Floyd’s service in the Marine Corps has been exemplary,” wrote Dr. Carl Castro, director of military and veterans programs at the University of California. South in a report included in the petition.
Castro wrote that it is possible that Floyd “could not only have functioned in the Marine Corps, but could have done so at a fairly high level, despite his FASD and his family and drug use history. This phenomenon has been termed “suffering during operation”. It is believed to be widespread within the military due to the mental health stigma that prevents Marines and all service members from seeking and receiving the mental and behavioral health services they need.
Castro’s report indicates that Floyd began a downward spiral after his release from the military.
“Tragically, Mr. Floyd’s path after the military happens far too often,” he wrote. “While there are many jobs in the military that translate into civilian jobs, Mr. Floyd did not have one. Mr. Floyd was a specialist weapons trainer and there are not many jobs in the civilian world for specialist weapons trainers.
Other doctors who have examined Floyd say his organic brain damage from fetal alcohol syndrome impaired cognitive abilities that would have allowed him to self-regulate his behavior.
“God is the author of life, and no person, government or system has the right to take another person’s life,” said Emma Tacke of the Catholic Mobilizing Network, “This is particularly blatant about execute a man like Zane Floyd. ”