- NAMI Death Penalty Page
- Death Penalty Information Center Mental Illness Page
- Tennessee Supreme Court
- The Equitas Project, Severe Mental Illness and the Death Penalty
Richard Taylor and William Keith Matthews have SMI, and both were tried for murder in separate cases in Tennessee. The prosecution sought the death penalty in Richard Taylor’s case. The prosecution did not seek the death penalty in the case of William Keith Matthews. Taylor was convicted and sentenced to death in 1984 and remained on death row until 2008, when he was re-sentenced to life. Matthews was tried and given a life sentence in 2003.
Taylor’s SMI and the decision to seek the death penalty in his case complicated an already convoluted legal process. There were two trials and 27 years of litigation before his sentence was ultimately reduced to life. In the end, both men remain incarcerated, and neither will be executed; but because of the decadeslong, futile pursuit of the death penalty, Taylor’s case cost more than twice as much as Matthews’ – a difference of more than a million dollars.