Thursday, January 15 2009
One state defense attorney is asking legislators to guarantee justice and fairness by banning the execution of death row inmates who suffer from severe mental illness.
Attorney Kimberly Stevens spoke to a legislative committee on Thursday asking them to remove the death penalty as a sentencing option for some suspects accused of first-degree murder.
According to the Associated Press, the new legislation would allow a judge to declare a suspect to have a severe mental disability. If convicted, the person would face a maximum sentence of life in prison without parole.
State law already bars a death sentence for the mentally retarded and North Carolina juries also can find a defendant not guilty by reason of insanity.
The bill could be considered after the Legislature meets later this month.