Court: Paranoid Schizophrenic with IQ of 61 and Manic Depression is Eligible for Execution

Donald Giles would appear to have the trifecta of mental incompetence arguments against execution. He is a paranoid schizophrenic with an IQ of 61 and a history of suicide attempts and depression. However, Jefferson County Circuit Judge Martin McDonald has ruled that Giles, 41, may be put to death if the jury so rules in his trial for the 2003 murder and robbery of Charles Goodlett.

In Atkins v. Virginia, 536 U.S. 304 (2002), the Supreme Court ruled 6-3 that executing the mentally retarded violates the Eighth Amendment’s ban on cruel and unusual punishments. Notably, Atkins was deemed “mildly mentally retarded” with an IQ of 59.

Kentucky law statutes actually ban the execution of a person with an IQ of 70 or below but McDonald ruled that Giles should have been given an IQ test as a child to claim such an exception.

This is news to many in the field who argue that the only requirement is proof that the mental condition was not recently claimed or caused. Giles has a lifetime of proven mental illness.

In the meantime, McDonald has been criticizing the local media for publicizing the case and his ruling on the mental incompetence of Giles.

For the full story, click here.

16 thoughts on “Court: Paranoid Schizophrenic with IQ of 61 and Manic Depression is Eligible for Execution”

  1. Buddha — good article. The issue is that even with the administration of the death penalty in death penalty states, there ARE no real standards and precedent is NOT precedential and justice is often whatever the judge thinks is “a good idea.” A person can spend his whole life trying to do better than that, even in a single case, and still come to naught. The judicial department of the government — all of it everywhere — is not to be trusted and cannot be trusted, and all because of this basic fact: Any judge can make ANY THING out of ANY CASE.

  2. This judge has a history of being foul. He should have been removed from the bar a long time ago.

    Judge stops murder trial over evidence
    Dead man in robbery is called an ‘animal’
    The Courier-Journal

    The murder trial of a store employee charged with shooting and killing a man during a 2002 robbery attempt was halted yesterday by a Jefferson Circuit Court judge who ruled there was not enough evidence to continue.

    In announcing his ruling, Judge Martin McDonald also called the dead man an “animal,” according to the wife of the deceased and the prosecutor in the case.

    After prosecutors rested their case against Firas Al Kurdi yesterday, McDonald granted his attorney’s request for a directed verdict, in essence finding Al Kurdi not guilty of murdering James J. Abdul-Shajee, who was shot three times, once in the back.

    Abdul-Shajee’s family expressed outrage that the trial was ended, as well as at McDonald’s comments from the bench.

    “He said that if anybody was a victim, it was Al Kurdi and that we as a community owe him an apology,” said Sharon Shajee, Abdul-Shajee’s wife. “It was like my husband deserved to die. Whatever he feels, he’s a judge. You don’t cast your opinion. You’re supposed to be” unbiased.

    Mac Shannon, a prosecutor in the case, confirmed that the judge had called the dead man an animal, but both he and Steve Tedder, a spokesman for the commonwealth’s attorney’s office, declined to comment on the remarks.

    “The judge will have to answer to that,” Tedder said.

    McDonald could not be reached for comment last night.

  3. “Kentucky doesn’t need any good purpose to execute this individual.”

    I find the “bloodthistiness” of the States that embrace Fundamentalist beliefs to be astounding. It seems that across religious lines those attracted to Fundamentalist theology are in essence totalitarian in mentality and generally unable to empathise with their fellow human beings.

    In this instance, this man’s death is seen as revenge for his crime. This revenge would presumably produce closure for the citizenry and for those close to the victim. That closure is a false premise that has little to do with the mourning/healing process of loss and much to do with atavistic needs. Contrary to some beliefs, if executions were put on TV, their ratings would be quite high and their frequency would increase exponentially.

  4. He’s the son of a retired judge and the brother of another sitting judge. Born on third base and thinks he hit a triple. The surname itself in Jefferson County is worth maybe 50K votes come election time. Doesn’t matter if he can walk and chew gum simultaneously. Extremely pro-prosecution because, as you can see, he came up the hard way, and no whey-brained evil-doer is gonna pull the cashmere over his watery baby blues.

  5. Man, that just gives me the greatest idea:

    We should really execute anyone older than their IQ…. It’s the only thing that can save us from the Bush-dynasty

  6. “daydreamshangover” is hopefully joking. A professionally administered individual IQ test is different from the junk on the web.

    The judge has waded into the particulars and lost his credibility in tut-tutting anyone. The downside is that jury selection tends to be biased toward people willing to consider the death penalty.

  7. Don’t get hung up* on the IQ issue. Modern adult IQ tests are literally graded on a curve. A score of “61” simply places him in some percentile of the overall adult population. (Where a score of 100 is by definition the 50th percentile, and scores are distributed in a bell curve from there.) That said, it does mean that he’s pretty impaired and I don’t know the exact number, an IQ of 61 is in the bottom percent or two. This sounds like something worse than “mildly” developmentally disabled.

    More useful than some quantitative number (but more problematic to assess and understand) would be an analysis of his ability to understand rules and even the basic idea that actions have consequences.

    Never mind the death penalty, I wonder how this guy could be found fit to stand trial and/or contribute to his own defense.

    We have a serious problem in how we deal with mentally disabled and/or ill people in our criminal justice system. We really need to move away from our current bi-polar* model where one is either competent and full responsible or extraordinarily mentally ill, and thus not responsible. We need some stages in between that recognize degrees of impairment and responsibility. Sadly, this would require legislative action and legislation comes from elected legislators, who are chicken to stand up to the uninformed prejudices and general ignorance of the electorate.

    (* Puns intended!)

  8. I hear I got competition in the hanging department. Get that damn fool here and I will gladly give him a stretch to remember.

  9. Mike S,
    Kentucky doesn’t need any good purpose to execute this individual. Especially when the judge is making up his own law as Buddha correctly suggested. It sounds like this judge is using the old Texas reasoning why someone should be executed: “He needed killing”!

  10. My question is: What purpose is served executing this man? Given his diagnosis and IQ this person is mentally incompetent. His being in a position to commit murder is the fault of the authorities who had not intervened earlier to have this man in some sort of custody. This is all about a stupid Judge, with no sense of anything but an improper reading of the bible.

  11. “My question is: Is it really possible for a person to have such a low IQ?”

    Are you kidding? Have you seen the teabaggers? Or simply look at the GOP opposing health care reform in order to maintain the staus quo.

  12. My Question is what do you call an attorney with an IQ of 50? You honor…..

    I guess the Judge should be eligible for execution too. How about Alberto Gonzales?

    The law in states that no person below an IQ of 70 may be executed. The article states that the man has an IQ of 61 and the Judge has scheduled him for death? Does this not sound like a Federal Question to me? The harm caused by delay will be greater than the anticipated harm?

    How about this Judge be taught the Mosaic Law of Justice! Damn eye….

  13. I bet he’s criticizing the coverage.

    “McDonald ruled that Giles should have been given an IQ test as a child to claim such an exception.”

    Utter nonsense.

    Just because McD said so, does not make it so. When the test was given is completely irrelevant unless it was given while he was under the influence of some supervening factor like drugs. And to fully measure a brains potential, it should be mature. An IQ test before puberty, when schizophrenia usually begins to manifest, would have been an incomplete picture at best. Not only that, but the type of IQ test also matters. There are many more than one and they often measure different metrics. McDonald may know how to swing a gavel and act like a media thug but he’s illustrated that he knows squat about science as it relates to the human mind.

    Not only with this not withstand appeal, it should merit McDonald being disbarred. He’s making shit up so he can get the desired result. Outcome based reasoning for an execution is no different than murder. A judge’s job is to interpret, not make. It’s that simple. He doesn’t get to add stipulations to the law by fiat anymore than the President does – well, the President gets to make up law in signing statements because he refuses to quit acting in an unconstitutional manner, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to follow a law based on a signing statement any more than I’d follow this made up twaddle McDonald his trying to sell right now. Even when I was for the death penalty, I wouldn’t have been for this nonsense. Giles is statutorily incompetent if the law sets the threshold at 70 (which is also the generally accepted standard among psychiatric professionals for mental retardation as measured by the Stanford-Binet test) no matter when the test was given and whether McDonald likes the fact or not.

    Maybe someone should give McDonald an IQ test?

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