Mentally Ill Death Penalty Ruling

TALLAHASSEE-- A ruling handed down by the U.S. Supreme Court Tuesday will make it more difficult for the state to execute criminals claiming mental disability.

Anti-death penalty advocates are claiming victory.

Freddie Lee Hall was sentenced to death for killing a Hernando County woman and deputy sheriff in the late 70s.

Hall claimed mental disability and scored a 71 on an IQ test. Florida's strict requirements deem anything over a 70 as eligible for execution.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of Hall, deeming that the IQ test isn't sufficient enough to determine mental disability. Anti-death penalty advocates see it as a victory.

"This is definitely a win, what the supreme court said today is that intellectual disability is a condition, not a number," Shelia Meehan of Tallahassee Citizens Against th Death Penalty.

The ruling could affect the fates of criminals currently on death row in Florida

Criminal defense attorney Chuck Hobbs said other death row inmates will most likely look to see if they can now claim disability.

"The american civil liberties union used the ruling to rail against the state's death penalty requirements," Hobbs said.

A statement from the group's executive director reads
"The strict IQ rule struck down by the Supreme Court today is just one example of the many ways in which our state's death penalty system falls short of constitutional and human rights standards."

The narrow 5 to 4 ruling by the high court means that Florida must now re-examine Hall to see if he is mentally ill.

We reached out to Florida's attorney generals office for a comment.

A spokesman would only say they received the ruling and are currently reviewing it.


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