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View Diary: Man with 51 IQ held for 30 years without proper trial (79 comments)

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  •  Malice aforethought isn't an element. (0+ / 0-)

    He was convicted of capital murder. Texas doesn't have the traditional felony/first degree/second degree distinction, but basically capital murder is first- or second-degree murder comited during the course of a dangerous felony.

    All the State would need to prove is intent to kill or cause serious injury during the course of a robbery. Diminished capacity wouldn't normally preclude forming the necessary intent.

    Competency is probably the bigger issue, but that usually comes up in the context of mental illness. Someone with the mental age of a 9-year-old can still truthfully answer an attorney's questions, whereas someone with severe paranoia or who is completely delusional cannot.

    •  It has been my experience as well that IQ rarely (0+ / 0-)

      forms the basis for a claim related to competency. Though I generally think that there is more to assisting counsel at trial than answering questions truthfully and understanding the nature of the proceedings, I always find that the Courts don't agree with me.

      I am interested to know if you are saying that the only capital murder cases are ones where the defendant is guilty by virtue of of the felony murder rule. I know many states include felony murder in the category of first degree murders but didn't know that Texas doesn't have a separate capital offense that goes to state of mind. I can't tell if that is what you are saying because in most states intent to kill is still distinguished by premeditation and deliberation.

      "Speak the TRUTH, even if your voice shakes."

      by stellaluna on Thu Dec 06, 2012 at 04:11:37 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  And yes, if there is felony murder diminished (0+ / 0-)

      capacity is not a defense. I don't what the jury was instructed on and what they found the defendant guilty of in this case.

      "Speak the TRUTH, even if your voice shakes."

      by stellaluna on Thu Dec 06, 2012 at 04:13:49 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

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