Death Penalty

Ohio Supreme Court Bars Death Penalty for Mentally Retarded Man

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The Ohio Supreme Court has struck down a death sentence for a convicted double murderer because of his mental retardation, despite evidence that he could play video games, pay bills and drive a car.

The court ruled it would be cruel and unusual punishment to execute Clifton White III for killing the mothers of his ex-girlfriend and her new boyfriend, the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports. The court said that despite White’s abilities, he met the criteria to be classified as mentally retarded under the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2002 ruling Atkins v. Virginia, which bars such executions.

One psychologist who examined White said he had the abilities of an 11-year-old, and another said he had subaverage functioning. White repeated seventh grade and was in 10th grade for three years before he dropped out of school.

“The mentally retarded are not necessarily devoid of all adaptive skills,” Justice Robert Cupp wrote for the court in an opinion (PDF) released yesterday.

The trial judge had cited evidence that that White drove, cooked, played the video game Mortal Kombat and taught his ex-girlfriend how to play cards.

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