WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Supreme Court refuses to consider three Oklahoma murder cases in which the convicted killers escaped execution by claiming they were mentally retarded.
In each case, the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals modified the sentence to life imprisonment after the convicted killers said they were mentally retarded. Oklahoma Attorney General Drew Edmondson's office says rules the appeals court adopted about mental retardation are over-inclusive and sought to have the modifications set aside.
The Oklahoma officials suggested evidence in the three murder cases points to the offenders as possessing low intelligence or borderline mental retardation as opposed to mental retardation.
In a 2002 case, the US Supreme Court identified mentally retarded criminal offenders as a class for which capital punishment would violate the Eighth Amendment ban on cruel and unusual punishment.
Oklahoma officials argued in court papers that the Supreme Court ruling doesn't demand modification of a death sentence merely because there is some evidence of mental retardation exclusive of evidence to the contrary.
The defendants in the cases are Darrin Lynn Pickens, Maximo Lee Salazar and Robert Wayne Lambert [pictured].