| Crime |

Two Days Before a Dallas Man's Scheduled to Die, Lawyers Claim He's "Mentally Retarded"

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Ten years ago last March, "Roderick Newton and Julian Williams went to a car wash in Pleasant Grove in Dallas looking for someone to rob." So reminds the Texas Attorney General's media release issued last week, which recounts the reason Newton is scheduled to be executed by the state Thursday evening: After forcing Jesus Montoya to withdraw $200 from an ATM, Newton drove the man to a vacant field, demanded he remove his gold chain and cross, then shot him repeatedly. Newton was convicted of capital murder in March 2000.

But a massive petition filed moments ago in the Criminal District Court No. 2 of Dallas County and in the Court of Criminal Appeals of Texas in Austin insists Newton's should receive a stay of execution on the grounds that he's mentally retarded. The Supreme Court ruled in 2002 that the execution of the mentally retarded is a violation of the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments, which include a prohibition against the use of "cruel and unusual punishment."

Three years later, a court assigned Newton's case to attorneys David Finn and Clint Broden, who insist that not only had the previous court-appointed attorney performed shoddy defense work, but that Newton had an IQ of 61.

In an "intellectual assessment" report delivered to defense counsel last week, San Antonio neuropsychologist Gilbert Martinez wrote that "Mr. Newton's general cognitive ability is within the extremely low range of intellectual functioning"; Martinez also wrote that Newton was "occasionally childlike" during his examination. Sub-average intellectual function is generally defined as an IQ around 70 or below, according to American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities.

The petition asks that the court "stay his execution ... and remand the case to the trial court for an evidentiary hearing."

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