Thursday, June 11, 2009

Texas sentences mentally retarded teen to 100 years

An 18-year old Texas teenager with "profound mental disabilities" was sentenced to 100 years in prison yesterday after pleading guilty to five counts of sex abuse, including aggravated sexual assault, toward a 6-year-old neighbor, USAToday reported this morning.

The case is going to be appealed, according to the Dallas Morning News, with a number of points about the trial itself being questioned. The teenager, has an IQ of 47 and was found mentally retarded as a child. Yet his court-appointed defense lawyer, who had the burden of explaining the boy's disability to the judge and jury, didn't ask for special accommodations for him, such as a liaison who could've helped him understand what was happening in the court. Nor did he call any witnesses to testify as to his defendant's condition.

Jurors also told the Morning News that during their deliberations they repeatedly sent notes to Lamar County Judge Eric Clifford asking if there were any alternatives to prison, which, they say, "the judge didn't answer clearly."

“The sentence raises serious questions about how people with profound disabilities are prosecuted in Texas at a time when both state lawmakers and the U.S. Supreme Court are considering the appropriate punishment for people who are young, mentally disabled, or both,” the Morning News said.

The Morning News also related that the Texas legislature, last week, sent a bill to Texas Governor Rick Perry that would require law enforcement officials taking someone into custody with obvious mental disabilities, to inform court magistrates within 72 hours, who would then have to order a local mental health or mental retardation expert assess the individual and allow that assessment to be considered during the trial’s sentencing phase. ( Bill Analysis ) (See our two previous posts Here and Here)


tvkchaitanya said...

relly great post i found interest in reading the post
"the tittle was awesome"Texas sentences mentally retarded teen to 100 years"

Eleanor said...

If we read this news in the International news section stating that this trial took place in China, Burma, Somalia, etc. we would be appauled and just turn the page BUT this happened in the United States where we pride ourselves on our justice system. Shame on us. Speak up. This is a national disgrace and just one more example of the injustice in our own country as well as our insensitivity to those with mental disabilities.

Natalie said...

I'm curious if the teen was ever evaluated for competency. There had to be some questions as to his competency and whether he fully understood what was going on or if he was capable of assisting with his defense. It's especially unfortunate that while his case goes through the appeals process which will take years, he will be serving his time in adult prison and probably will not receive any care or treatment for his condition.

croatia said...

Sad, but I am not surprised.