Mental disability an issue in Fla. death penalty

Mental Health
Posted at 1:16 PM, Dec 21, 2012

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — The Florida Supreme Court will be asked to take another look at how to determine if a death row inmate is mentally disabled.

The issue divided the high court in a 4-2 opinion upholding a death sentence for Freddie Lee Hall for murdering a 21-year-old, pregnant Leesburg woman in 1978.

Defense lawyer Eric Pinkard said Friday that he will ask for a rehearing and if that fails may take the case to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The federal high court has prohibited the execution of mentally disabled inmates as being unconstitutional cruel and unusual punishment.

But it has allowed states to determine what constitutes mental disability.

The majority of Florida justices ruled they must follow a law saying anyone with an IQ of 70 or higher cannot be disabled.