Over 4,000 people have sat there since 1930. But, who can sit in that chair? Definitely not kids, and here’s why .
The year is 1983, the third of February, William Wayne Thompson, his half-brother and 2 other men have brutally murdered Wayne’s former brother-in-law, who had “repeatedly physically abused” Wayne’s sister. Wayne is 15 at the time.
The other three, who had been over 16, were tried and sentenced to death. But as Wayne had been 15, he presented a problem. He was a juvenile, and while the punishment procedure was clear for adults it grew hazy regarding children. The court wanted to try him as an adult. They did, and he was sentenced to die.
But his lawyers appealed. The court of appeals only cited the lower court for “excessive use of color pictures of the body”. Still, the appeals court supported Wayne’s death sentence. His lawyers appealed to the Supreme Court, saying that imposing the death penalty on a person under 16 violated the 8th Amendment, qualifying as “cruel and unusual punishment”. .
They stated that the 6th, 8th, and 14th Amendment had been broken. The “inflammatory pictures” broke the right to an impartial judge (6th), as well as violating the procedure of due process (14th). Imposing the death penalty on a minor was counted as cruel and unusual punishment (8th).
They argued that juveniles have been found numerous times to be “less culpable for crimes than adults due to inexperience, less education, and less intelligence.” Though convicted in an adult court, his penalty shouldn’t be an adult punishment. His age had not been given “great weight” as a mitigating fact at the sentencing hearing (as stated by Oklahoma law), since he was being treated as an adult. The use of “gruesome” photos inflamed and prejudiced the proceedings, breaking both the 14th Amendment’s guarantees to due process and an impartial jury.
Oklahoma argued with the following: Thompson was treated as an adult by Oklahoma law.