- Associated Press - Sunday, May 25, 2014

LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) - Kentucky’s longest-serving death row inmate is claiming he has a mental disability and should be exempt from facing execution.

Attorneys for 55-year-old Karu Gene White said in a filing on May 19 that he had an abusive upbringing and delayed development has a child resulted. The attorneys say those were among the factors that have resulted in White having a low IQ and being ineligible to face execution.

Attorneys Kevin McNally and Margaret O’Donnell also cited White’s lack of education - he dropped out of school in the ninth grade - repeated drug use and inability to write a coherent letter home from prison as signs of an intellectual disability.

White killed 75-year-old Charles Gross, his wife, 74-year-old Lula Gross, and 79-year-old Sam Chaney during a February 1979 store robbery in Haddix, an Appalachian mountain community of about 2,270 people in Breathitt County.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2002 that people with mental disabilities were ineligible for execution. Generally, that is considered to be anyone with an IQ of 70 or lower. White cited the decision shortly after the high court rendered it, prompting numerous delays in the appeals of his case.

McNally and O’Donnell have sought to have White examined by a private doctor, while prosecutors pushed for an examination at a state facility.

The fight over which doctors can conduct a mental exam and if the state should pay for a private doctor has been lingering since White first raised it in 1984 - five years after the triple slaying that landed him on death row at the Kentucky State Penitentiary in Eddyville.

White has been on death row for more than three decades - twice the average 15-year stay for a condemned inmate in Kentucky.

White has raised numerous issues over the years, including the long delay in implementing his death sentence and the fact that he was sentenced to death while one co-defendant, Chuck Fisher, received immunity in exchange for his testimony, and the other, Tommy L. Bowling, was paroled after serving just eight years of a 140-year term.

Fisher was 16 at the time of the murders; Bowling was 17. Bowling, now 53, was convicted in Florida of nine counts of molestation and sexual battery of a child and sentenced to 20 years in prison.


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