The Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruling in Pennsylvania v. Williams is available in Adobe .pdf format.
"Mentally disabled Crafton Heights man won’t face death penalty," is the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review coverage by Adam Brandolph.
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court on Tuesday upheld an Allegheny County judge‘s decision to remove a Crafton Heights man from death row because he is mentally disabled.
A jury in 2002 sentenced Connie Williams, 61, to die by lethal injection after convicting him of first-degree murder for killing his wife, Frances Williams, 53, in August 1999. He stabbed her to death, then cut off her head, hands and feet.
Common Pleas Judge Lawrence J. O‘Toole in April 2010 removed Williams from death row because his attorneys argued the sentence amounted to cruel and unusual punishment. Prosecutors appealed.
Justices on the Supreme Court saw no errors and upheld O‘Toole‘s decision, citing prominent doctors who testified that Williams‘ IQ was between 70 and 75.
“Connie‘s lack of intellect was evident,” public defender Lisa Middleman, who represented Williams during the penalty phase of his 2002 trial, told the Tribune-Review in 2010.
As I often point out, mental retardation is now generally referred to as a developmental or intellectual disability. Because it has a specific meaning with respect to capital cases, I continue to use the older term.