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Louisville Judge Martin McDonald rules Kentucky man with IQ of 61 eligible for the death penalty


Jefferson County Circuit Judge Martin McDonald ruled that despite having an IQ of 61, Donald Giles (pictured above) is eligible for the death penalty because his IQ test was not taken when he was a child.

From the Louisville Courier-Journal‘s “Man with IQ of 61 may face death penalty“:

He has been diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic with an IQ of 61 — a legally mentally retarded man who, according to his attorneys, has been in and out of institutions, suffers from depression and has attempted suicide numerous times.

But while Kentucky law bans execution of a person with an IQ of 70 or below, when Donald Giles [right] stands trial Friday for the 2003 murder and robbery of Charles Goodlett, jurors will have the option of sentencing him to death if he is found guilty.

In rejecting a motion by Giles’ attorneys to exclude the death penalty because of his low IQ, [Jefferson County Circuit] Judge Martin McDonald ruled that under state law, Giles, 41, would have had to have taken an IQ test when he was still a child…

Some experts on the death penalty say the logic in McDonald’s ruling was faulty. They say that while a defendant must show signs of mental retardation during their childhood — to prove they have not suffered a more recent brain trauma or alcohol abuse that would not exclude the death penalty — it doesn’t have to be diagnosed during childhood.

Ted Shouse, who had worked for the Department of Public Advocacy defending convicts on death row and is the supervising attorney of the Kentucky Innocence Project, said he has never heard of a similar ruling.

Just another example of how Kentucky’s death penalty system is arbitrary, broken, and out of step with modern thinking.

After the aforementioned article appeared, Judge Martin McDonald delayed the trial, “partly out of concerns that recent publicity could bias potential jurors” according to the Courier-Journal.

Senior Judge Martin McDonald criticized The Courier-Journal on Friday for an article the previous day about Donald Giles, who is legally mentally retarded but facing the possibility of the death penalty along with Robert Holt in the 2003 murder and robbery of Charles Goodlett.

“I don’t like The Courier-Journal blasting something in the media about a case we’re getting ready to start jury selection on,” McDonald said Friday, as the trial was set to begin. “I mean, it’s counterproductive.”

When a Kentucky man who’s a paranoid schizophrenic with an IQ of 61 is on trial for his life, the media should shout it out.

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