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Thursday, June 28, 2007

Ind. Decisions - "Court overturns death penalty in child's murder"

Charles Wilson of the AP reports today on the 7th Circuit's June 18th decision in Christopher M. Stevens v. Daniel McBride (see ILB entry here). Some quotes:

A federal appeals court has overturned the death penalty for a man who raped and murdered a 10-year-old boy while on parole for child molesting -- a crime that led to the creation of the Indiana Sex Offender Registry.

Jurors might have spared Christopher M. Stevens if his attorneys had presented adequate evidence of his mental illness, the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago concluded. * * *

"In this case, we find a reasonable probability ... that the result would have been different if the jury had heard mainstream expert psychological testimony," Judge Diane P. Wood wrote in the 2-1 ruling that found Stevens' defense inadequate.

Other experts who testified at hearings on post-conviction relief said Stevens likely suffered from a dissociative disorder, in which parts of the mind can be closed to each other, triggered by a childhood history as a victim of abuse. * * *

The June 18 ruling stopped short of overturning Stevens' conviction, though Judge Kenneth F. Ripple wrote in a separate concurring opinion that he believed that Stevens might not have been found guilty if a proper mental-illness defense had been mounted.

Judge Daniel A. Manion dissented, saying he believed the sentence should stand.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on June 28, 2007 08:52 AM
Posted to Ind. (7th Cir.) Decisions