- Associated Press - Friday, June 5, 2015

BURLINGTON, Vt. (AP) - Attorneys for a man facing a federal death penalty retrial in the killing of a supermarket worker 15 years ago said Friday they may investigate whether he is “intellectually disabled” and therefore ineligible to be put to death.

The comments came during a procedural hearing on timing and other issues in the case of Donald Fell, who was convicted and sentenced to death a decade ago for the killing of Terry King, of North Clarendon. Last year a federal judge ordered a new trial after it was revealed that a juror had investigated the case on his own.

“If the death penalty was off the table, that would be a much different case,” defense attorney Michael Burt told U.S. District Court Judge Geoffrey Crawford.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Bill Darrow would not comment on that possibility.

Investigators say Fell killed King, a 53-year-old grandmother, in Dover, New York, while she prayed for her life several hours after she was abducted from the parking lot of a Rutland supermarket in November 2000.

Fell, now 35, and co-defendant Robert Lee, who died in prison in 2001, were charged with carjacking and killing King. Prosecutors say Fell and Lee were trying to escape Vermont after fatally stabbing Fell’s mother and a friend of hers in her Rutland apartment. No state charges have been filed in those cases.

Attorneys told the judge they are on track to be ready for trial in the fall of 2016, as the judge had set.

King’s relatives sat in the front row during the hearing as they have for years, during Fell’s trial and other court hearings.

“I’m sick, sick, sick of it being about Donald Fell,” said King’s sister Charlotte Tuttle, of Rutland.

“We want it to be quick,” King’s daughter, Lori Hibbard, said of the retrial.

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