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Thursday, June 28, 2007

Ind. Decisions - "McManus returns to death row: State reverses ruling"

Bryan Corbin of the Evansville Courier & Press reports today on yesterday's 3-2 Supreme Court decision in State of Indiana v. Paul M. McManus (ILB entry here - 2nd case):

An Evansville man convicted of killing his wife and two children is not mentally retarded and therefore is eligible for the death penalty, the Indiana Supreme Court ruled Tuesday.

The state's highest court overturned a lower-court ruling that had declared Paul M. McManus could not be executed because he met the legal standard for mental retardation. * * *

A jury in 2002 rejected his insanity defense and convicted him of three counts of murder. McManus was sentenced to death.

McManus' appellate attorneys filed an appeal called a post-conviction relief petition, which a Vanderburgh County judge, Senior Judge William Brune, partially granted last year. Based on mental health experts who testified at the appellate hearing but not at the original trial, Brune found that McManus fit the legal standard for mental retardation, and therefore under a state statute and a 2002 U.S. Supreme Court ruling, McManus could not face execution. Brune altered McManus' sentence to life without parole. * * *

Written by Chief Justice Randall Shepard, the 19-page majority decision [issued yesterday] analyzes the mental health experts' testimony from McManus' hearing last year. Of the five IQ tests McManus has taken since childhood, he scored above the retardation level of 70 to 75 on three of them, and was borderline on the other two, Shepard wrote. Although Brune's ruling "concluded McManus was significantly sub-average as to intellectual functioning," Shepard wrote, "this finding is not supported by the record and is clearly erroneous." Four other issues raised in the appeal were also decided in favor of the prosecution.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on June 28, 2007 09:07 AM
Posted to Ind. Sup.Ct. Decisions