The issue of the mental capacity of a convicted killer is a volatile subject. Many believe if a person is able to take a life, he then should be punished for that crime. There are those who believe, however, that if a person is mentally retarded, he may not have the capicity to know what he was doing when he took that life. A circuit judge in Alabama had to make a ruling on just this subject last week.
Circuit Judge Jim Smith ruled that Kishon Green, who was charged with fatally stabbing two children in 2008, is mentally retarded and cannot face the death penalty.
Smith commented on the ruling by saying that in many respects, this is the most difficult decision this judge has been called on to make in a career spanning 18 years on the bench. He added that the court strongly believes that the death penalty is an appropriate punishment for horrific crimes such as the charged offenses is this case, but that the United States Supreme Court clearly and unequivocally stated that the mentally retarded are exempt from the imposition of the death penalty.
Smith felt that despite the zealous and heartfelt efforts of the prosecutors in this case, the evidence proffered of the defendant’s mental retardation is not only sufficient, it is overwhelming.
The defendant, Kishon Green, is charged with capital murder for the 2008 stabbing deaths of his 10-year-old son, Antwan, and Antwan’s half-brother, 13-year-old Fredrick Thomas. He also faces attempted murder charges for an attack on the boy’s mother, Tiffany Burrell.
Prosecutors had said they would pursue the death penalty for Green if he is convicted.
Green’s defense attorneys argued that Green in mentally retarded. They introduced testimony from two psychologists who said Green met the criteria for mental retardation in Alabama, which is: an I.Q. that is sub-normal, deficient ability to behave in society as other people his age, and the condition began before he was 18.
Rob Broussard, Madison County District Attorney, stated his office would review the decision and consider whether to file an appeal. Broussard commented that they had the utmost respect for Judge Smith, but right now they would have to review the decision before I can say if we’re going to appeal.
Judge Smith said he would set a trial date in “the near future.”