This is the Rodney Young Story. A man with a staggeringly low IQ may be put to death. Why? Because Georgia law requires individuals sentenced to death to prove their intellectual disability ‘beyond a reasonable doubt’ before they can be exempt from the death penalty.
The standard is so high that no defendant has ever met the burden of proof.
Worst of all, the language in the law is the result of a grammatical error.
Police arrested Young for the March 2008 murder of his former girlfriend’s son, Gary Jones, in Covington, GA. A grand jury indicted him in June of the same year on one count of malice murder, two counts of felony murder, one count of aggravated assault, and one count of burglary. Two months later, the case became a death penalty case. A full four years after the crime was committed, Young stood trial.
According to court documents:
Young presented evidence in the guilt/innocence phase in support of a possible finding of “mental retardation” by the jury, including testimony from staff members at his former high school stating that he had been in special education, had been classified as “educable mentally retarded” and therefore must have been tested with an IQ of between 60 and 69, and had struggled intellectually in academics and in sports. However, Young did not present any expert testimony regarding his alleged intellectual disability or any actual IQ test results.
That’s where it all fell apart. After decades, neither the case nor the law have been fixed. Now, Young’s only hope rests entirely on a decision by the Supreme Court of the United States.