Skip to comments.Fla. Death Sentence Vacated Because Of Low IQ (WTH?!)
Posted on 01/05/2010 12:29:26 PM PST by greatdefender
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- The death sentence of a Florida man convicted of the 1981 killing of a convenience store clerk has been vacated because his IQ is too low.
A judge in Daytona Beach last month signed an order setting aside the death sentence for Ted Herring.
Circuit Judge Joseph Will wrote in his decision that Herring has significant limitations in his functioning.
The state Attorney General's Office has appealed the decision to the Florida Supreme Court. If the order is affirmed, Herring will be sentenced to life in prison.
A 2002 Florida law prohibits the execution of anybody with an IQ below 70.
Herring was convicted in 1982 of killing clerk Norman Dale Hoeltzel at a 7-Eleven in Daytona Beach.
Apparently, this does not prevent graduation from law school or being seated as a judge.
I’ve had an IQ test, I imagine it would quite easy to “play dumb” on the test if you wanted to save your butt from a death sentence.
I think it was Denis Leary who dealt with this in his stand up work over a decade ago:
They say they can’t execute him because he doesn’t understand what he did. Well, if he doesn’t understand what he did, he doesn’t know that we’re going to kill him! Strap him into the chair and tell him it’s a ride!
It’s a “damn if you do and damn if you don’t” situation.
Clinton put a low IQ person to death when he was governor. This was never forgotten.
As the prisoner was being taken away, he was looking forward to returning to his cell to finish his dessert or something similar.
The death penalty is *not* punishment, since it is impossible for the recipient to “learn” from it. It is purely retribution and elimination of an undesirable component of society. The only function a death penalty recipient serves is as an example to others. Therefore the actual recipient’s intelligence (or lack thereof) has no bearing on the effectiveness of the sentence *on the recipient*. In other words, no one is too dumb to die for a crime they committed.
I didn’t know about the Florida law until now.
When the State Supreme Court in SC made a similar decision, every inmate on deathrow filed an appeal on those grounds.
Really? No one is too dumb to die for a crime they committed? That doesn't seem very likely. There are people that don't have the cognitive ability to understand how to dress themselves, or feed themselves who could conceivably murder someone. Should they be put to death?
It's seems to me that in a civil society, there must be at least some minimum capacity on the part of the defendant to understand the criminality of their actions. To be clear, an absence of cognizance ability to understand criminality doesn't equate to ignorance, which is no excuse under current law. As an example, I might not know that the speed limit is 65, but that doesn't absolve me of the ticket that I receive when driving 70. But, if I can't understand the concept of speeding or right & wrong and certainly murder, then it's tough to make a compelling argument for the death penalty in such instances.
I have no idea if this man is competent to understand his crime, but there certainly are people who lack the mental acuity to understand concepts as simple as death, or murder. I think it ignorant to pretend otherwise.
Herring possesses enough intelligence to coordinate the motor skills necessary for committing murder, and that's plenty for the death penalty.
Its a mistake not to kill him.
Tell him to get up and lay on the Gurney. If he is smart enough to do that he is smart enough to get the needle.
If someone with the intelligence level you describe kills someone, they would be much more likely to receive a conviction of involuntary manslaughter or some similar sentence. Someone who is capable, as this person was, of entering society functionally, and of executing a crime such as a robbery, has the mental capability of being held responsible for their actions. Further, the death penalty is a unique sentence. Neither the public nor the criminal has any expectation of rehabilitation as a result of receiving the punishment, and therefore ultimately it doesn’t matter to what depth they “understand the criminality of their actions”. By the same logic, we should never destroy dogs that begin injuring people, as they have no way at all of understanding the wrongness of their actions. It is the court’s function to determine what level of severity the crime implies. If the court sees fit at the time of the trial to accuse the defendant of murder, as opposed to manslaughter, negligent homicide, or death by misadventure, then the punishment range is similarly “in play”. In this case, I am castigating Florida for allowing the nonsensical IQ test as a threshold for imposing or excluding the death penalty, as an IQ test is far too easy to deliberately underperform on, and any criminal who gets into a potential death-penalty situation will be aware of the requirement and prepare accordingly.
Can we then void the votes of all of those whose mental capacity is below that standard? After all, if that intellect is too low to be responsible for murder then it must be too low to responsibly vote.
Dogs aren't people. Analogies to how we treat dogs - feral or otherwise - are completely irrelevant.
"It is the courts function to determine what level of severity the crime implies."
No in American jurisprudence. The charges that are or are not brought is a determination left solely to the discretion of the prosecutor. It's the "court's" (to include judge and jury) responsibility to make a determination with respect to guilt or innocence of the charges that have been presented.
"I am castigating Florida for allowing the nonsensical IQ test as a threshold for imposing or excluding the death penalty, as an IQ test is far too easy to deliberately underperform on, and any criminal who gets into a potential death-penalty situation will be aware of the requirement and prepare accordingly."
Because of 2002 Supreme Court case called Atkins v Virginia, the FL court is bound by judicial precedent in this matter. Because of that decision, they have an obligation to protect the Eight Amendment rights of the accused. They came up with the best possible solution available given the current law, as imperfect as that solution may be.
The Florida statute was prompted by US Supreme Court decisions that forbid the execution of the mentally retarded. If not for the statute, Florida’s death penalty law would be more readily subject to challenge as unconstitutional.
One other purpose: it eliminates recidivism in the particular instance.
I would also mention that a low IQ does not prevent you from being a Supreme Court justice either. I give as evidence Stephen Breyer.
You won't like my answer.
A creature appearing to be a human being, having proven capable of lethal danger to society, should have the same right to a merciful end as a rabid dog.
This is the new game the liberal defenders are pulling. They have come up with new ways to calculate the IQ to get people out of death sentences...watch for a lot more of this.
If they murder someone with premeditation, or during the comission of a violent crime, certainly. How stupid they are is immaterial.
Killing them insures that they'll never do it again.
Who cares what his IQ is? If we have a death penalty and someone is sentenced and isn’t exonerated in any way...then why not enforce it regardless of how smart they are?
If they are a genius criminal should we kill them more slowly or something...lol...oh wait Obama, Van Jones want to hire those criminals...I almost forgot. I never understood the insanity or low IQ defense - the person still did the crime...they should do the time.
If we don’t have the stomach for a death penalty then just put them away for life.
That's what the Court did in this case. They didn't set him free, they reduced his death sentence to life imprisonment.
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