In the United States the only French man on death

In the United States, the only French man on death row has his sentence commuted

The only Frenchman currently on death row in the United States saw his sentence commuted to life imprisonment with no possibility of release by a Texas appeals court on Wednesday, April 19, 2023.

Joseph Jean was sentenced to death in January 2011 for killing two teenage girls with a baseball bat in April 2010 in Baytown, near Houston, Texas.

Reached by AFP on the phone, Joseph Jean’s mother told herself ” So happy “when the change is announced. “I’ll be able to take him in my arms, I’ll be able to touch him”She was touched, Lina Jean, glad to be able to visit him more often.

Intellectual disability incompatible with the death penalty

As early as August 2013, Joseph Jean’s lawyers challenged his sentence, saying he had an intellectual disability, a diagnosis incompatible with the death penalty since a 2002 Supreme Court decision.

After a long legal process, neuropsychiatrists, speech specialists and witnesses had tried to convince them of the correctness of this diagnosis during a hearing in December 2021.

The Texas Court of Appeal joins them in its decision.

The judges considered that the applicant had managed to show that he was satisfied “meets the legal and clinical criteria for the diagnosis of an intellectual developmental disorder and is therefore ineligible for the death penalty”.

Life imprisonment without possible parole

So they commuted “the death penalty of life imprisonment with no possibility of parole”.

When he spoke to AFP, his mother, who lives near Houston, Texas, could not reach him to break the news.

Joseph Jean, now 50, was born in the United States Virgin Islands to two French parents.

His mother came to Texas in 1985 with five of her seven sons to join her husband, who had found a job as a welder at a refinery, she told AFP in October 2022.