USA - California. Supreme Court overturns Robert Lewis' death sentence for intellectual disability.

29 May 2018 :

California Supreme Court overturns Robert Lewis' death sentence, citing intellectual disability. Lewis, 65, Black, was sentenced to death in Los Angeles County on November 1, 1984 for the murder and robbery of Milton Estell on October 27, 1983. The Court decided unanimously that he cannot be executed because he is intellectually disabled. Lewis "has met his burden of proving he is intellectually disabled," the Court wrote. The U.S. Supreme Court decided in 2002 that intellectually disabled killers should not be executed, concluding that it was cruel and unusual to put to death a person with the mental age of a child. Lewis was examined by a psychiatrist and a psychologist when he was on trial, but they did not assess his cognitive abilities. After a lawyer for Lewis challenged his sentence, the court assigned Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Robert J. Perry to examine whether Lewis was disabled when he committed the crime. Perry, who had previously presided over 29 death penalty cases and sentenced 12 killers to death, held several hearings and concluded that Lewis met the legal definition of intellectual impairment, known as mental retardation in the past. Lewis' sentence will now be reduced to life without the possibility of parole.


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