Inmate Allowed To Pursue Mental Retardation Claim

Tuesday, April 10th 2007, 6:38 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ A death row inmate is granted permission to pursue his argument that he shouldn't be executed because he was mentally retarded when he killed an Oklahoma City couple. Assistant Oklahoma Attorney General Jennifer Miller says a three-judge panel of the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver had ruled in favor of 32-year-old George Ochoa. The court says the decision can't be appealed.

Ochoa was convicted in the 1993 slayings of Francisco Morales and Maria Yanez of Oklahoma City. The killings occurred before a 2002 U.S. Supreme Court ruling said mentally retarded killers can't be executed.

Ochoa had already lost several rounds of appeals in Oklahoma's state courts.

In the federal courts, a U.S. district judge in Oklahoma City denied Ochoa's first challenge to his sentence under habeas corpus, a tenet of the Constitution protecting inmates from unlawful imprisonment. He has appealed that denial to the 10th Circuit.