Judge told to review death row inmate's disability claim

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JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — The Mississippi Supreme Court is telling a circuit judge to reconsider his ruling that upheld the death penalty for an inmate who says he's intellectually disabled and therefore ineligible for execution.

Anthony Carr was one of two men convicted in the 1990 slayings of Carl and Bobbie Jo Parker, their 12-year-old son Gregory and 9-year-old daughter Charlotte.

Sparsely populated Quitman County had to raise taxes three consecutive years to pay for the defense of Carr and Robert Simon Jr., who both still await execution.

In May 2011, Simon's execution was only four hours away when a federal appeals court ordered a halt to consider his intellectual disability claim. The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected his appeal in March.

Carr was convicted of four counts of capital murder in a trial that was moved to Alcorn County.

During arguments before the state Supreme Court in May, attorney Alexander Kassoff, who works for the state Office of Capital Post-Conviction Counsel, said Carr, 50, cannot be executed. Kassoff cited a 2002 U.S. Supreme Court ruling barring states from executing people who are intellectually disabled.

Jason Davis of the Mississippi Attorney General's Office countered that Carr's death sentence should be upheld even though two psychologists disagreed about his mental abilities.

In a ruling Thursday, justices said Circuit Judge Charles E. Webster dismissed Carr's claim of intellectual disability based on Carr's IQ score, but that the judge failed to consider whether Carr had "adaptive" behavior problems with reading, social skills or practical skills such as understanding how to use money or follow schedules.

"Because 'the medical community's diagnostic framework' recognizes that Carr's IQ between 70 and 75, coupled with 'severe adaptive behavior problems' could support a diagnosis of intellectual disability, the circuit judge applied an incorrect legal standard by treating Carr's IQ score alone as dispositive of this case, and by failing to balance and analyze his adaptive functioning deficits with his IQ score," Justice Ann Lamar wrote in the ruling.

The Supreme Court did not set a deadline for Webster to reconsider Carr's claim.


Follow Emily Wagster Pettus on Twitter: http://twitter.com/EWagsterPettus.

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