Man’s possible disability key issue in Kansas capital case

Kansas Supreme Court (KSN photo)

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) – A Kansas man’s attorneys have asked the state Supreme Court to spare him from being executed for a college student’s murder over questions about whether he is developmentally disabled.

The court heard arguments Friday in an appeal from 34-year-old Justin Eugene Thurber. The south-central Kansas resident was sentenced to die for the kidnapping, rape and killing of 19-year-old Jodi Sanderholm after he stalked members of her college dance team. A ruling will come later.

The judge rejected the defense’s request for a hearing on whether Thurber is developmentally disabled, ruling that the defense hadn’t presented enough evidence to warrant a hearing.

The state notes that Thurber graduated high school and attended college.

The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that it is unconstitutional to execute defendants with even mild developmental disabilities.

 

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