Sentence Reversals in Intellectual Disability Cases (2002 – 2012)

Defendants Whose Death Sentences Have Been Reduced Because of a Finding of “Mental Retardation” since Atkins v. Virginia (2002)

Compiled by Prof. John Blume, Cornell University Law School, as of May 8, 2008. (83 Cases). Subsequent cases added below chart from the Atkins Project, Cornell Univ., as of July 19, 2012 (15 cases)

UPDATE (2015): There have been wide variations among states in exempting defendants with intellectual disability from the death penalty. Professor John Blume (l.) of Cornell Law School, along with three co-authors, analyzed claims filed under the Supreme Court’s decision in Atkins v. Virginia (2002) against executing defendants with intellectual disability (formerly, “mental retardation”). Overall, from 2002 through 2013, only about 7.7% (371) of death row inmates or capital defendants have raised claims of intellectual disability. The total “success” rate for such claims was 55%. In North Carolina, the success rate was 82%, and in Mississippi 57%. However, in Georgia (where Warren Hill was recently executed), the success rate for those claiming this disability was only 11%, and in Florida, the success rate was zero. The authors found that states that significantly deviated from accepted clinical methods for determining intellectual disability, such as Florida, Alabama, Georgia, and Texas, had the lowest success rates. To preserve equal protection under the law, the authors recommended the Supreme Court strike down aberrant practices in isolated states, just as it struck down Florida’s strict IQ cutoff. (J. Blume, et al., “A TALE OF TWO (AND POSSIBLY THREE) ATKINS: INTELLECTUAL DISABILITY AND CAPITAL PUNISHMENT TWELVE YEARS AFTER THE SUPREME COURT’S CREATION OF A CATEGORICAL BAR,” 23 William & Mary Bill of Rights Journal 393 (2014)).

StateNameDefendant Race/GenderVictim(s) Race/GenderIQ ScoresDefects in Adaptive FunctioningSourceEtc
AL James Borden W/M W/F 65-66, 53 Ability to manage money, manage home and transportation, manage health and safety and in his social adjustment. 2004 WL 362256 (Ala.Crim.App.)
AL Glenn Holiday (Holladay?) W/M 49, 56, 54, 66, 71, 69, 68, 72, 71, 65 functional academics, work, communication, social skills, community use granted MR relief in federal court, but the State is appealing
AL Jeremiah Jackson B/M F 69-72 Jackson v. State, 2006 WL 2788980 (Ala.Crim.App. Sep 28, 2006).
AZ Jose Calderon-Palomino H/M
AZ Ramon Martinez-Villareal H/M W/M &H/M 50-64 work, social skills, language and communication, and self-care stipulated to Atkins relief
AZ Efrain Vega-Bustamante M
CA Efrain Hernandez M 67, 65, 57
CA Jorge Vidal M M 81, 92, 78, 77
CA London Willard M Contra Costa County Superior Court Case No. 020571-6. District Attorney stipulated to client’s incompetence under Penal Code § 1368, and dropped death demand, based in part on client’s mental retardation.
CO Jimmy Vasquez H/M F 70, 72, 61, 64 communication, functional academics, work People v. Vasquez, 84 P.3d 1019 (Colo. 2004).
CO Trevon Washington B/M 2M 1? 69, 71 between 3 and 5 of the following: communication, health and safety, leisure, self-direction, social
FL Charles Michael Kight W/M B/M 67, 68 State agreed to life after their expert found him MR.
FL Charlie Thompson B/M M & F plea to life in exchange for dropping guilt phase pc claims… not sure if formal mr finding
FL Kenneth Leroy Watson B/M F 69, 73
GA Johnny Lee Gates B/M case settled during MR hearing to jury because of a witness’s outburst
IL Emerald Ausby B/M
IN Gregory Rouster B/M M & F Rastafari v. State, Lake Superior Court case no. 2CR-133-886-531 (June 16, 2003 order of the post-conviction court) aka Gamba Rastafari
LA Joseph Carmouch M borderline range of 70-80 remand, state and defense doctors agreed so done by consent Remanded by State v. Carmouche, 01-0405 (La. 09/25/03); 872 So. 2d 1020, Atkins relief granted by 15th Judicial District Court, Parish of Acadia, Honorable Edward Rubin, Judge
LA Thomas Deboue B/M B/M & B/F 65 MDLA #01-464. Court ruled on the papers (more or less negotiated, i.e., state declared it would let the ct rule on the petition without hearing) Nick Trenticosta was lawyer… I believe Judge Ginger Berrigan granted Atkins relief
LA Richard Hobley B/M B/M 55 not established on retrial, convinced DA not to seek death due to MR
LA Tyrone Lindsey B/M W/F 50-60 or 65 not established 542 So.2d 886 (La 1989)
LA Eddie Mitchell M 80? post-conviction, judge summarily ruled based on earlier proceedings and testing put in the record Relief granted in PCR by 14th JDC. I believe Eddie was the first post-Atkins MR hearing in La.
LA Herbert Welcome B/M B/M 50-57 clemency by governor following pardon board hearing and recommendation to commute death.
LA Corey Williams B/M M 65-68 multiple adaptive behavior deficits in the moderate to severe range (less than 1st percentile) State v. Corey Williams (No. 193,258 Caddo Parish, First Jud. Dist. Ct. La. Feb. 21, 2004).
MO Alis Johns W/M M 61-84 communication, daily living, and socialization Johns v. State, No. CV501-0389CC (Mo Cir. Ct. July 17, 2003).
MO Steven W. Parkus W/M W/M 65-82 personal relationships, self care, employment, academic, social In re Parkus, 219 S.W.3d 250 (Mo. 2007) (en banc)
MS Jimmie (James) Mack B/M M 61-73 All skills, Vineland showed deficits in MR range Mack v. State, No. 7344 (order of circuit court post-conviction)
MS Howard Neal W/M 2F
MS Mack Wells B/M M Wells v. State, 903 So.2d 739 (Miss., 2005) (en banc).
NC Melanie Anderson W/F W/F 75, 69, 62, 67 functional academics State v. Anderson, 94 CRS 5669, 95 CVR 887 (N.C. Gen. Ct. Justice Superior Ct. Div. July, 29, 2003).
NC Anthony Bone B/M W 69, 63, 72 social skills, communication, functional academics State v. Bone, 97 CRS 73219 (N.C. Gen. Ct. Justice Superior Ct. Div. January 28, 2004).
NC Leon Brown M F 30, 51, low 50s, 57 all skills areas State v. Brown, No. 93 CRS 3374-75 (N.C. Gen. Ct. Justice Superior Ct. Div. March 24, 2004).
NC Chamberlin, Jr. M 60s unlisted State v. Chamberlin, Jr., No. 01-CRS-7175-78, 54889 (N.C. Gen. Ct. Justice Superior Ct. Div. Jan. 14, 2004).
NC Renwick Gibbs B/M 3B 51, 57 unlisted State of North Carolina v. Gibbs, No. 91-CRS-4082 (Gen. Ct., Jun 31, 2004).
NC Anthony Hipps B/M W 60, 68 social skills, functional academics, communication, work, self-care State of North Carolina v. Hipps. Rowan county Superior Court
NC Russell Holden B/M B/F 70 and below Communication, social skills, self-direction, functional academics, work skills State of North Carolina v. Russell Holden Citation for Order was unpublished, N.C. Supreme Court Case available at State v. Holden, 488 S.E.2d 514 (N.C.,1997).
NC Jonathan Leeper B/M 2B/M 64, 70 functional academics, communication, social skills, self-care, self-direction, and work skills State of North Carolina v. Leeper (Citation for Order was unpublished, N.C. Supreme Court Case available at State v. Leeper, 565 S.E.2d 1 (N.C., 2002). State v. Leeper, No. 98 CRS 10902-03 (N.C. Gen. Ct. Justice Superior Ct. Div. May 11, 2004).
NC Robert McClain B/M B/M 70, 65, 15, 70, 64 State v. McClain, 94 CRS 30181 (N.C. Gen. Ct. Justice Superior Ct. Div. Dec. 11, 2002). State v. McClain, 610 S.E.2d 783 (N.C.App., 2005).
NC Elton Ozell McLaughlin B/M B 70, 72, 71, 76 functional academics, communication, social skills On habeas review
NC Lorenza Norwood B/M Middle Eastern 67, 69, 64 State v. Norwood, 93 CRS 5239, 5251 (N.C Gen. Ct. Justice Superior Ct. Div. Sept. 20, 2003).
NC Dwight Robinson B/M W 69, 56 functional academics, home living State v. Robinson, 86 CRS 25054 (N.C Gen. Ct. Justice Superior Ct. Div. Nov. 7, 2003
NC Sherman Skipper W/M W 69 communication, self-care, home living, social skills, community use, self-direction, health and safety, functional academics, work
NC Johnnie Spruill B/M B 68, 65, 73/75, 55 functional academics, health and safety, self-direction, home living, social skills State v. Spruill, No. 404A92-5 (Supreme Court of North Carolina, 7/26/04).
NC Tony Staten B/M M 61, 68 functional academics, communication, social skills, health and safety
NC Larry Williams B/M 2W 69, 62, 75 5 areas State of North Carolina (Gaston County) v Larry Darnell Williams, General Court of Justice, Superior Court Division, 79-CRS-1867, -1241
NV Jimmy Todd (JT) Kirksey B/M M Trial court concluded MR, in a post-conviction proceeding
NY Craig Godineaux BH/M DA agreed not to seek DP in exchange for a LWOP plea
OH Derrick L. Evans B/M 2B CR-87-216710-C
OH Derryl Gumm W/M W 73, 70, 71, 79, 70, 67 (67 and 79 not included in analysis) all three areas, although those are most clearly demonstrated in the areas of practical and conceptual adaptive skills State v. Gumm, 169 Ohio App. 3d 650 (2006)
OH Kevin Yarbrough B/M W 69 functional academics, social skills, communication aka Robert Lee Johnson
OK Richard Eugene Hammon B/M M Hammon v. State, 2004 WL 352200 (Okla. Crim. App. Feb. 26, 2004).
OK Robert Lambert W/M W/M & W/F 71 P3d 30 (Okl.Cr. 2003) (rem for jury trial) MODIFIED TO LWOP 126 P3d 646, 2005 OK CR 26 (12/7/05) cd - US -, 127 SC 42, 166 LEd2d 251 (10/2/06)
OK Barney Marshall NA/M NA 50 on OLMAT academics PCD-2002-981
OK Gilberto Martinez H/M 2H/F 62-63 80 P.3d 142 (2003).
OK Darrin Pickens B/M W/F 74 P3d 601 (7/23/03) (rem for jury trial) MODIFIED TO LWOP 126 P3d 612 (12/7/05) cd - US -, 127 SC 42, 166 LEd2d 251 (10/2/06).
OK Max Salazar NA/M W/F 84 P3d 764 (2004) (review procedures) MODIFIED TO LWOP 126 P3d 625, 2005 OK CR 24 (12/7/05) cd - US -, 127 SC 42, 166 LEd2d 251 (10/2/06). The Court of Criminal Appeals did not necessarily find him to be mr, although there is an argument they came close.
OK Rocky Snow W/M W/F 68 87 P3d 626 (2004).
PA Karl Chambers W/M F granted resentencing pretrial Atkins relief
PA Jose DeJesus M M 61 social skills, functional adacemic skills, home and personal living
PA Arthur Faulkner B/M F & W/F Faulkner v. Horn, NO. 99-5986 (E.D. Pa. July 2, 2002). government stipulated to MR in plea
PA Jerome Gibson B/M M 70-75 or below functional academic skills, self-direction, and work skills Commonwealth v. Gibson, 925 A.2d 167 (2007).
PA Marty Graham W/M 63, 66, 75 Commonwealth v. Graham, No.’s 3948, et seq. CD 1987 (Pa. Ct. Common Pleas, Dec. 18, 2003).
PA Peter Karenbauer W/M F 68 Commonwealth v. Karenbauer, No. 642 of 1995, CR. (Pa. Sept. 23, 2002). the state’s expert at trial admitted on cross that Karenbauer was MR so when Atkins came down during the state post conviction proceeding he was resentenced without argument from the state
PA Joseph D. Miller W/M 2F 66, 67, 55, 59, 55, 78, 81 Commonwealth v. Miller, 2003 WL 23278215 (Pa.Ct. Common Pleas June 30, 2003).
PA Simon Pirela H/M M 57, 67/55, (84/83 on the EIWA that translates to a low 60s on the WAIS) communication, functional academics aka Salvador Morales
PA Nathan Scott B/M F
PA Raymond Whitney B/M
SC Thomas Lee Davis M 57 Memory/orientation, managing money, managing home and transportation, home and safety, and social adjustment Proposed order, expert report
SC Ricky George B/M M 66, 69 communication, self-care, safety, social skills, home-living, work, self-care, daily-living
SC Johnny Ringo Pearson B/M B/F 62, 72, 70, 65, 72, 69, 64, 65, 64 (mean of 67 and median of 65) functional academics, work, communication, home living, health and safety, self direction, social skills, community use, leisure, self care
TN Eddie Harris W/M W/M & W/F 64 “auditory processing, simple concentration, mental flexibility, language
Remand, state and defense doctors agreed so done by consent
TX Walter Bell B/M W/F & W/M Ex Parte Bell, 152 S.W.3d 103 (Tex.Crim.App. 2004) (per curiam). Ex Parte Walter Bell, AP-75, 038 (Texas Ct. Crim. App., Nov. 10, 2004). Ex parte Bell, No. AP-75,038 (Tex. Crim. App. Nov. 11, 2004).
TX Darrell Carr B/M H/F (pregnant) Ex parte Carr, No. AP-75,627 (Tex. Crim. App. Feb. 28, 2007).
TX David DeBlanc B/M W/M Ex parte DeBlanc, AP-75,113 (Tex. Crim. App. Mar. 16, 2005).
TX Doil Lane W/M H/F Houston Chronicle
TX Willie Mack Modden B/M W/F 64, 58 Ex parte Modden, 147 S.W.3d 293 (Tex. Crim. App. 2004). Ex Parte Modden, No. 74,715 (Tex. Crim. App. April 21, 2004).
TX Eric Lynn Moore M F 72 conceptual and social skills Moore v. Dretke, 2005 WL 1606437 (E.D.Tex. Jul. 1, 2005).
TX Jose Alfredo Rivera M M 64, 68, (70, 85, 92, and 80 given less weight) self-care, social skills, home living, and functional academics Rivera v. Quarterman, 2007 WL 3027070 (5th Cir. 2007).
TX Demetrius Simms B/M B/F Ex parte Simms, No. AP-75,625 (Tex. Crim. App. Feb. 28, 2007).
TX Robert Smith B/M W/M
TX Exzavier Lamont Stevenson B/M 2M Ex parte Stevenson, No. AP-75,639 (Tex. Crim. App. Mar. 21, 2007).
TX Alberto Valdez H/M W/M Ex parte Valdez, No. 75,039 (Tex. Crim. App. Nov. 11, 1004). Ex Parte Alberto Valdez, AP-75, 039 (Texas Ct. Crim. App., Nov. 10, 2004).
TX Gregory van Alstyne M M 69, 69, 56 Ex Parte Gregory van Alstyne, Trial Crt No. 30,941-02-B, CCA No. 33,801-02; 2007 WL 3375149

Additional cases from the Atkins Project of Cornell University:

AL - ____ Thomas - Thomas v. Allen, 607 F.3d 749 (11th Cir. 2010)
AZ - ____ Canez - State v. Canez, 2007 WL 5595966 (Ariz. App. Div. 2007). ,State v. Canez, 74 P.3d 932 (Ariz. 2003) (en banc) (state withdrew request for death penalty)
AR - ____ Simpson - Simpson v. Norris, 2009 WL 2985837 (E.D. Ark. Sept. 16, 2009)
IN - Howard Allen - Allen v. Wilson, 2012 WL 2577492 (S.D.Ind., 2012)
LA - ____ Brumfield - Brumfield v. Cain, 2012 WL 602163 (M.D. La., February 23, 2012)
MS - Lawrence Branch - Branch v. Epps, 2011 WL 6026516 (N.D.Miss. 2011)
MS - William Wiley - Wiley v. Epps, 625 F.3d 199 (5th Cir. 2010)
MS - ____ Hughes - Hughes v. Epps, 694 F. Supp. 2d 533 (N.D. Miss. 2010)
MS - ____ Wiley - Wiley v. Epps, 668 F. Supp. 2d 848 (N.D. Miss. 2009)
MO - ____ Lyons - State ex rel. Lyons v. Lombardi, 303 S.W.3d 523 (Mo. 2010)
NC - ____ Nicholson - Nicholson v. Branker, 739 F. Supp. 2d 839 (E.D.N.C. 2010)
OH - Michael Bies - Bobby v. Bies, 129 S.Ct. 2145 (2009) (state later conceded Bies’ m.r.)
OH - ____ White - State v. White, 885 N.E.2d 905 (Ohio 2008)
TX - ____ Cockrell - Ex parte Cockrell, 2009 WL 1636528 (Tex. Crim. App. 2009)., Ex parte Cockrell, 2008 WL 4417282 (Tex. Crim. App. 2008)., Ex parte Cockrell, 2005 WL 1349723 (Tex. Crim. App. 2005)
VA - Leon Winston - Winston v. Pearson, 683 F.3d 489, 2012 WL 2369481 (4th Cir. 2012)