Oklahoma Death-Row Inmate Asks Appeals Court To Intervene

Wednesday, February 28th 2007, 8:54 pm
By: News On 6

DENVER (AP) -- An attorney for an Oklahoma death-row inmate asks a federal appeals court Wednesday for permission to launch a second challenge to his sentence, arguing he cannot be executed because he was mentally retarded in 1993 when he killed an Oklahoma City couple.

Members of the three-judge panel of the 10th US Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver say they might use the case to set a new rule for the court's territory on how such cases are to be handled in the wake of a 2002 US Supreme Court ruling in a different case.

They did not indicate when they would rule.

The Supreme Court ruling said mentally retarded killers cannot be executed. That prompted 32-year-old George Ochoa to challenge his sentence in the slayings Francisco Morales and Maria Yanez in what prosecutors say may have been a gang initiation.

An Oklahoma state jury in 2005 found that Ochoa was not mentally retarded.