Supreme Court orders hearing for man on death row since 1981

By The Associated Press | Posted - Dec. 17, 2015 at 10:31 a.m.



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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — The Supreme Court is ordering a new hearing for a man who's been on death row for 34 years to determine whether he is intellectually disabled and thus ineligible for execution.

The ruling Thursday reverses a circuit court decision that Sonny Boy Oats, Jr. can be executed for the 1979 murder of a convenience store clerk during a robbery in Ocala.

The Supreme Court said a circuit court erred when it determined that Oats failed to prove that he was intellectually disabled since childhood. It said there is ample evidence to suggest he was.

The state's high court also referred to a 2014 U.S. Supreme Court decision that factors other than IQ need to be considered when determining intellectual ability in death penalty cases.

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The Associated Press

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