Saturday, March 15, 2003

Execution postponed after lawyers say man is retarded

By John McCarthy
The Associated Press

COLUMBUS - The Ohio Supreme Court on Friday postponed the execution of a man convicted of killing a Cleveland drug store owner after his lawyers said he is mentally retarded.

Ernest Martin, 42, was ordered to be executed on March 26, but the court's ruling postpones that until at least June 18.

The court on Friday also set dates for the execution of two more inmates, including one from Hamilton County.

Martin's lawyers have asked the Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court to determine whether Martin is mentally retarded. The U.S. Supreme Court last year found the execution of retarded inmates to be unconstitutional, but left it up to the states to set the standards for determining retardation.

Martin was convicted in the 1983 murder of Cleveland drug store owner Robert Robinson during a robbery.

Timothy Payne, an assistant public defender representing Martin, told the Ohio Parole Board that Martin was enrolled in learning disabled classes in school and that his IQ was 77 then. The state says it has measured Martin's IQ at 91 and argues that he had the capability to write a 240-page autobiography.

An IQ of 70 or lower is generally considered one indicator of mental retardation, according to the American Association of Mental Retardation's guidelines.

Also on Friday, the Ohio Supreme Court ordered that David Brewer of Greene County be put to death April 29 for the 1985 stabbing death of a friend's wife.

The court also set a May 14 execution date for Jerome Campbell of Hamilton County, convicted of stabbing a 76-year-old Cincinnati man to death in a 1988 burglary.

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