"Defendant in death penalty case has court outburst," is AP coverage by Adrian Sainz, via the Houston Chronicle.
A former prison guard charged with killing two Tennessee postal workers was physically restrained and removed from the courtroom after an outburst during a federal hearing Monday.
Chastain Montgomery became upset during his mother's testimony in a court hearing in Memphis to determine whether he is eligible for the death penalty if convicted in the October 2010 shootings of Paula Robinson and Judy Spray during a robbery at a small-town post office.
Defense attorney Michael Scholl said Montgomery abruptly stood up and began to say something before he was grabbed by U.S. marshals and forced into a room adjacent to the courtroom. Montgomery was shackled at the hands and legs, and a marshal was sitting behind him, but he still managed to stand up from his chair behind the large desk he shares with defense attorneys.
Montgomery's mother Lois was taken to the witness room after the outburst, and Senior U.S. District Judge Jon McCalla stopped the hearing. McCalla later returned and told Montgomery that while he understood that watching his ill mother testify was difficult, a second incident could result in his exclusion from the hearing.
A ruling by U.S. Senior District Judge Jon McCalla that Montgomery is intellectually disabled would be a major blow to the government's case.
Earlier Monday, psychologist Mark Siegert testified that intelligence tests taken by Montgomery over a 35-year span show he has mild intellectual disability.
Siegert studied a large number of documents compiled by other doctors who have examined Montgomery, including an IQ test given to him when he was 14 and another administered last year. Siegert also gave Montgomery a third IQ test this past May.
Montgomery's IQ on all three tests was below 70, considered the general threshold for an intellectually or mentally disabled person, Siegert said. Such low IQ test scores over a 35-year period is "tremendous evidence" that someone is intellectually disabled, he said.
An AP preview of the hearing was, "Hearing in federal death penalty case in Memphis," via the Jackson Sun.
A court hearing has begun over claims that a former Tennessee prison guard charged with killing two postal workers is mentally disabled and ineligible for the death penalty.
Federal prosecutors are seeking the death penalty against Chastain Montgomery, charged in the fatal shootings of Paula Robinson and Judy Spray in October 2010.
The hearing to address Montgomery's mental status started Monday morning in Memphis. In a court filing, defense attorneys say Montgomery had two IQ tests in which his score fell below 70.
Because it has a specific meaning with respect to capital cases, I continue to use the older term on the website. More on Atkins v. Virginia, the Supreme Court's 2002 ruling banning the execution of those with mental retardation, is via Oyez.