Man's possible disability key issue in Kansas capital case

October 27, 2017 - 9:21 pm

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 Justin Eugene Thurber, 34. The south-central Kansas resident was sentenced to die for the kidnapping, rape and killing of Jodi Sanderholm, 19, 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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