19 June 2018 :
Kentucky Supreme Court rules death penalty IQ law is unconstitutional. According to the Court, the definition of intellectual disability adopted by the state legislature to determine a capital defendant’s eligibility for the death penalty is unconstitutional, and established new guidelines. In Robert Keith Woodall v. Commonwealth, the appeals court overturned a trial court’s determination that Woodall did not qualify as intellectually disabled because his IQ did not meet the bright-line IQ cutoff of 70 set forth under state law. It returned Woodall’s case to the lower court to assess his intellectual disability claim under a constitutionally appropriate standard. It is unconstitutional to sentence a mentally disabled person to death - which has been defined in Kentucky as someone with an IQ below 70. However, Kentucky's high court ruled a person cannot be found intellectually disabled simply because they have an IQ of 71 or above. Instead, the justices determined defendants must undergo a "totality of the circumstances test," including whether they have the ability to learn basic skills and adjust their behavior to circumstances, among other guidelines. Those standards are in line with guidelines established by the U.S. Supreme Court (the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent decisions in Hall v. Florida (2014) and Moore v. Texas (2017)) that take other factors into account, according to the ruling. The federal court, for example, bars states from using a single, strict IQ standard to determine a prisoner's death penalty status. In its ruling, the Kentucky high court found the state's current law to be "an outdated test for ascertaining intellectually disability." Kentucky was one of only a few states still using the fixed score cutoff to determine mental disability. Robert Keith Woodall, 44, White, was sentenced to death on September 4, 1998 for raping and killing a 16-year-old girl in Greenville 2 decades ago. Woodall pleaded guilty to kidnapping Sarah Hansen on Jan. 25, 1997, from a convenience store. Woodall acknowledged that he raped the girl and slit her throat twice before throwing her in a lake. DNA evidence, fingerprints and footprints led to Woodall. A jury sentenced Woodall to death, but a psychiatrist has since testified he was "intellectually disabled," according to the ruling. The case has been sent back to Caldwell Circuit Court.