- Associated Press - Saturday, February 22, 2014

SPARTANBURG, S.C. (AP) - A judge is deciding whether a Chesnee man can face a death penalty trial for killing an 8-year-old girl after a three-day hearing about the suspect’s intellectual abilities.

Ricky Blackwell Sr. grabbed the child in a headlock in July 2009 and shot her in the head after an argument with his ex-wife, authorities said. The girl was the daughter of Blackwell’s ex-wife’s boyfriend.

Prosecutors want to seek the death penalty, and the Herald-Journal of Spartanburg reports (https://bit.ly/1joj6sI) a judge finished hearing three days of testimony Friday about whether Blackwell has an IQ high enough for the state to seek to put him to death.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2002 it is unconstitutional to seek the death penalty against someone with an intellectual disability.

Several psychologists testified about Blackwell’s job and school records.

Blackwell dropped out of high school in his junior year and his math and reading skills ranged between the fifth- and seventh-grade level at age 18, forensic psychologist Ginger Calloway testified on behalf of Blackwell.

Blackwell worked as a truck driver and forklift operator, but never had a supervisory position or trained others. He was fired several times after accidents, Calloway said. She determined his IQ was not high enough to face a death penalty trial.

But prosecutors pointed out that Blackwell was able to hold down a job and had a family. They presented their own psychologist who evaluated Blackwell and determined he had no significant symptoms of mental illness or retardation.

Solicitor Barry Barnette also said the defense psychologist only used records from Blackwell’s past and didn’t review anything that happened after he was arrested.

“They don’t want to deal with the crime itself - what happened that day,” Barnette said.


Information from: Herald-Journal, https://www.goupstate.com/

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