Lawyer for executed Matthew Reeves: ‘He was my responsibility and I loved him’

Lawyer for executed Matthew Reeves: ‘He was my responsibility and I loved him’

Alabama just lately executed Matthew Reeves, a male with an IQ of 68. That score was identified by the condition of Alabama’s own professional, and it is effectively down below the threshold of 75 for mental disability. The jury that handed down that death sentence by no means listened to that vital reality. Despite the fact that we run in a judicial process in which it is unconstitutional to execute a person with intellectual incapacity, and 10 federal judges, at just about every amount of the judiciary, agreed that Matthew’s execution need to be stopped, the condition of Alabama basically pretended these points did not exist and carried out his execution on January 27, 2022.

I will under no circumstances recognize how the U.S. Supreme Court docket could have cleared the way for Matthew’s execution (twice, by the way, due to the fact two individual 11th Circuit panels ruled unanimously in Matthew’s favor and 2 times the U.S. Supreme Courtroom dominated against Matthew in summary trend). I also will hardly ever understand how the governor of Alabama unsuccessful to act when she had 1 previous opportunity to do the proper matter and spare Matthew’s life. Matthew hardly ever questioned to be produced from jail he only requested not to die.

Numerous may not want to feel about the everyday living of a convicted killer—Matthew was uncovered guilty of a murder in the program of a robbery—or believe he must garner empathy, but Matthew deserved our mercy. In writing this, I do not intend to overlook the agony suffered by the victim’s family members, and I come to feel deeply for them.

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I served as Matthew’s lawful counsel (professional bono) for shut to 17 many years and he was specific to me. He built a horrible alternative as an intellectually disabled 18-yr old who experienced been elevated in extreme poverty by a solitary mother, just a teenager herself when Matthew was born. But he also was significantly far more than the worst choice he built as a teen. Matthew’s mental disability meant he was childlike in numerous ways, and I cared about him a great deal like my individual child. He was my obligation and I beloved him.

No issue what was going on with him, Matthew routinely started our phone calls with “How’s the loved ones?” He usually designed it a issue to talk to how my little ones were being accomplishing. He despatched birthday cards and Christmas cards. In recent decades, as my daughter (now 8) figured out to read through and create, they turned pen pals and drew pics for each individual other. Matthew experienced artistic expertise and favored to brighten people’s days with his artwork. He once sent me a gorgeous and vibrant drawing with praying arms draped above a cross.

Jodi Lopez

Jodi Lopez represented Matthew Reeves for 17 decades.JON DIDIER

I’ll under no circumstances forget about the way he routinely reported, “Hey, I have obtained a problem,” considerably like my children do at the dinner table. I recall fondly the way we joked around the several years about how the Alabama football team’s time was heading and how my alma mater—the Michigan Wolverines—struggled. He teased me when Alabama blew my Wolverines away in a 2012 game I experienced attended.

It was not always quick with Matthew. His mental disability intended that it was really hard to reveal to him lawful principles and procedural matters that numerous non-attorneys without having an mental disability could possibly discover tough. Our legal staff typically explained to him 4 or five instances the applicable developments in his circumstance and even then they perplexed him. He in some cases grew indignant and discouraged with us. He’d make a swooshing audio on the cellphone and we could listen to him mumbling less than his breath. But he usually apologized swiftly and we normally located our way back again to one particular yet another.

Matthew was dedicated to bettering himself in prison. Though he only read at an elementary stage, he appreciated scripture and the letters and Bible passages my mother would send him. He appreciated to maintain tidy and cleaned his cell on a regular basis, specially throughout the pandemic. He could be silly and appreciated to snicker. A several times right before the Point out killed him, he discovered it hilariously stunning when I instructed him I experienced baked a Michigan-themed cake for my son’s birthday. He laughed and reported, “In all of our decades doing the job together, I’ve never ever heard you point out baking.”

In the weeks and days foremost up to his execution, Matthew expressed worry about the affect his execution would have on his household and our legal staff. Even going through the best punishment, he frequently stated he was praying for us. A shut colleague who also labored on Matthew’s lawful workforce traveled with me to Alabama to see him the week in advance of his execution. I appeared in his eyes then, and felt like I was speaking to a 10-year previous. In childlike phrases, he told me about a person of his favourite flicks, a children’s film known as A Dog’s Way House. He was happy that he could now operate in place in his mobile for 90 seconds, on prime of performing 500 pushups and sit-ups. He understood that work out made him come to feel superior, but he looked at me with wonderment—and I’m not persuaded he understood—when I discussed the release of endorphins in the mind. He worried about one more inmate with a major professional medical situation who experienced been moved to a further prison. Matthew experienced attempted to enable him, and apprehensive that the inmate would not have any individual to check out out for him. Matthew wished to locate a way to help the inmate. He’d also been telling his younger family members to make very good choices and not comply with in his path.

Matthew Reeves

Matthew Reeves

The past time I talked to Matthew—four hours ahead of his execution—he explained to me he experienced drawn a snowy owl for my daughter (her preferred animal) and he necessary to give it to an officer to mail. He instructed me to tell my young ones to be excellent, and he hoped he’d hear from them quickly. He also took the time to specific appreciation for all the things our workforce had completed for him. At the finish of that ultimate connect with, not being aware of what could occur, I told him that we—our workforce of legal professionals who experienced developed so near to him—loved him and he reported he loved us, way too. He told me that he hoped he’d be equipped to contact me tomorrow and that we’d communicate soon.

At about 7:25 p.m. on January 27, 2022, the U.S. Supreme Court—without a word of explanation—overruled a federal district judge who had prepared a 37-web page order granting an injunction protecting against Matthew’s execution because of difficulties relating to his intellectual disability, and a unanimous 11th Circuit panel which experienced written a 27-web page get affirming the injunction. I arrived at out immediately to the Governor’s Office concerning the clemency petition we had submitted on Matthew’s behalf quite a few times earlier. I questioned then and before for an prospect to speak right to the governor. I will never ever know how much time, if any, the governor used studying Matthew’s clemency petition but I consider anybody who examine it with an open up heart would fully grasp Matthew’s disability, and his humanity.

Matthew Reeves art

Drawn by Matthew Reeves, an intellectually disabled man executed by the point out of Alabama in January 2022.

Within just two hours of the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling, Matthew was long gone and my heart and the hearts of his family members and the numerous men and women who loved and cared about him had been broken. Regardless of his mental incapacity, he was not even provided with an prospect to discuss to his lawyers to fully grasp what experienced transpired.

I am sad and offended. I am devastated that I will by no means all over again listen to his voice. We will have to discover from the sad ending to Matthew’s existence and not repeat the egregious faults and failings that led to his execution. I pray—and hope that you will pray with me—that we never ever execute one more intellectually disabled person in Alabama or everywhere else in our nation.

Jodi Lopez is a partner with Sidley Austin LLP and for 17 a long time represented Matthew Reeves.

Matthew Reeves cross

By Matthew Reeves, who was executed by the condition of Alabama in January.

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