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Intellectually Disabled and Put to Death? The Rodney Young Story

The Rodney Young Story cover photo with Young and Szilagyi

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.

The Case

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.

Related Links to the Rodney Young Story

Jessica Szilagyi

Jessica Szilagyi is Publisher of The Georgia Virtue. She focuses primarily on state and local politics as well as issues in law enforcement. She has a background in Political Science with a focus in local government and has a Master of Public Administration from the University of Georgia. Jessica is a "Like It Or Not" contributor for Fox5 in Atlanta, a commentator on the 'Let Me Tell You Why You're Wrong Podcast,' and she has two blogs of her own: The Perspicacious Conservative and "Hair Blowers to Lawn Mowers." Sign up for her weekly newsletter:


  • Avatar
    Jim Johnson March 4, 2022

    Why waste any more taxpayer money? Execute him as soon as possible!

    These convicted felons sit on Death Row for DECADES, at Tax payer expense. When someone is convicted of a death penalty crime, that execution should happen sooner rather than later….They sit on death row for appeal,after appeal, after appeal…

    Execute them within (5) years of convection!

    • Avatar
      Brent March 5, 2022

      Please excuse the Mensa members who talk about “cost” as it relates to a death rom inmate. It has been shown time and time again that the cost for the death penalty is astronomically higher than life without parole.

      In other news, the State shouldn’t have the power to execute anyone especially someone who can’t even understand the proceedings that took place putting them in their current situation…

  • Avatar
    Jessica March 5, 2022

    As an English teacher, I would be interested in knowing the grammatical error in the law that is in question. This type of information is excellent for showing students the relevancy and importance of how and what is written.

  • Avatar
    neal tucker March 6, 2022

    This is the same mentality a genetics professor I ran with for few months….SMART MAN…his solution to culling….is simply killing….I know some dumb people don’t need killing…we wouldn’t even have a sheriff’s patrol full staffed…

  • […] 2012, Rodney Young was sentenced to death, despite having an IQ between 60 and 69. An IQ score of this level is indicative of an intellectual disability, but this doesn’t seem […]

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