ATLANTA (Associated Press) — His lawyer argues that the life of a Georgia man who was scheduled to be executed Tuesday for killing an 8-year-old girl should be spared, explaining that her client has significant cognitive disabilities that likely contributed to his crimes and suffered. Horrible abuse in prison.
Virgil Delano Presnel Jr., 68, murdered the 8-year-old and raped her 10-year-old friend after they were kidnapped while they were returning home from school in Cobb County, outside Atlanta, on May 4, 1976. He was convicted in August 1976 on charges that include murder Deliberate kidnapping, rape and sentenced to death. His death sentence was overturned in 1992 but was reinstated in March 1999.
“Before society can make a person pay the ultimate price for a crime, it must determine whether their guilt justifies the cost. In Virgil’s case, it simply does not,” his attorney, Monet Brewerton Palmer, wrote in his clemency request, which was declassified Friday by the State Council. For pardon and parole.
The app acknowledges the seriousness of what Presnel did and says it “deeply and deeply regrets” the families of the two girls. He asks the Parole Board to postpone his execution for 90 days so that the Board can review his application and then commute the sentence to life without the possibility of parole.
The five-member Parole Board, the only authority in Georgia that can commute the death penalty, had scheduled a closed pardon session on Monday to consider his case.
Presnell’s mother drank large amounts of alcohol while pregnant with him, and the history of serious developmental disabilities is well documented in his school records, Brewerton Palmer wrote, adding that he grew up in an “abusive and unstable environment,” and sexual abuse was “endemic” in his family.
Asking for clemency says that even when he was arrested, his significant cognitive limitations were apparent. Under questioning by the police, he confessed to every open crime against children in the county.
The request contained a message from Adele Grobbs, Presnel’s attorney who later became a Supreme Court judge: “Virgil was always clear that he did not mean to harm either girls. The effect of the kidnapping on them was beyond his comprehension. He thought they would have a good time.”
Asking for clemency acknowledges that it seems unreasonable, but argues that “it does not mean insincerity.”
“If it sounds unreasonable, we have to ask ourselves why anyone would think so. The answer is simple: ‘Virgil has severe brain damage,’” Brewerton Palmer wrote.
Presnel had suffered brain damage before birth and likely had fetal alcohol spectrum disorder, but that wasn’t an available diagnosis at the time of his nearly 46-year trial, according to the Compassionate App.
We didn’t know better in 1976. But we know better today. A just society does not deprive the developmentally handicapped.
Over the nearly half-century in prison, Presnel had a “hard time,” as he pleaded for clemency: “His crime was the worst of it – and so was his sentence.”
The request for clemency says that Brisnell, in particular, during his early years on death row, was “routinely raped, beaten, and deprived,” enduring winters without heating or hot water, sometimes spending several years without setting foot in the fresh air . But despite this hardship, he “has a clean disciplinary history and was an exemplary prisoner”.
One juror from the 1999 re-sentencing trial was quoted in the pardon request as saying that he believed at least six of the jurors, including himself, would have supported life imprisonment without parole if that were an option.
Presnell kidnapped the two girls as they walked home along a wooded road from an elementary school in Cobb County on May 4, 1976. He led them into a secluded woodland area, stripped them of their clothes and raped the older girl, according to evidence in the trial outlined in the Georgia Supreme Court ruling. The younger girl tried to escape, but Presnel caught her and drowned her in a creek, as the verdict said.
He locked the 10-year-old in the trunk of his car and then left her in a wooded area when he got stuck in the tyres, saying he’d be back. I ran to a nearby gas station and described to the police Presnel and his car with a flat tire.
The officers found him changing his tire in his apartment complex. He initially denied everything but later led the police to the 8-year-old’s body and confessed, according to the verdict.
Presnell will be the first person to be executed by Georgia this year and the seventh nationwide.