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Bill would exclude retarded from death penalty

March 7, 2001
By: Aaron Cummins
State Capital Bureau
Links: SB 267

A day after convicted murderer Antonio Richardson had his execution halted by the U.S. Supreme Court, Missouri's Senate gave first-round approval to a plan to exclude the mentally retarded from the death penalty. Aaron Cummins has the story from Jefferson City--

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The Senate plan uses a definition of mental retardation developed by prosecuting attorneys.

Cole County Prosecutor Rich Callahan says the wording of the plan is key.

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Contents: Callahan says having a specific definition will halt frivolous claims by some defense lawyers for death row inmates.

Callahan says Antonio Richardson would not have qualified as mentally retarded under this bill had it been in effect when he was convicted.

That's because the bill requires a defendant to be recognized as mentally retarded before turning 18 in order to claim retardation as a defense against a death sentence.

The bill faces a final vote in the Senate.

From the state capital, Aaron Cummins, KMOX-News.


Missouri's Senate gave first-round approval Wednesday to a bill that would exclude the mentally retarded from the death penalty. Aaron Cummins has more from Jefferson City--

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The Senate's vote came just a day after the U.S. Supreme Court put the execution of convicted murderer Antonio Richardson on hold because of questions raised about Richardson's mental capacity.

But, a lawyer who helped draft the language of the Senate bill says this plan would not effect Richardson's case.

Cole County Prosecutor Rich Callahan says the public has misconceptions about what actually constitutes mental retardation.

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Contents: Callahan says retardation is unlike other mental disorders, because it can't just develop overnight.

Callahan says the definition of retardation in the bill is tailored so that only people diagnosed before turning 18 can claim retardation as a defense against the death penalty.

In Jefferson City, Aaron Cummins, KMOX-News.