Ohio: A second week of hearings began Tuesday to determine whether killer Andre Williams, 49, should be spared the death penalty on the basis of intellectual disability.
Submitting a legal request, Williams was not present in court Tuesday before Judge W. Wyatt McKay of Trumbull County Common Pleas Court. He filed a motion waiving his right to be present "due to my mental health issues."
The Ohio Supreme Court in 2002 ruled that executing the mentally disabled violates the Constitutionâ€™s ban on cruel and unusual punishment. This added importance to the testomony of expert witnesses.Testifying Tuesday was Dr. Thomas Gazley of the Forensic Psychiatric Center of Northeast Ohio in Austintown, who was retained on behalf of Judge McKay to offer his opinion on whether Williams is too intellectually disabled to be executed.
Williams was convicted in 1989 of killing George Melnick, 65, and participating in the assault of Katherine Melnick, 64, at the Melnicksâ€™ Wick Street Southeast home. Williams was 21 at the time of the crimes and was sentenced to the death penalty.
Gazley testified he did not find anything that would indicate that Williams should have been diagnosed as intellectually disabled before age 18.
Williamsâ€™ IQ scores have varied over time, but there is no indication Williams suffered brain damage that would have caused this to happen, Gazley said.
He said Williams has "adapted quite well" to being on death row and that Williams was never formally diagnosed as intellectually disabled despite the school system placing him in classes for people who are "low functioning."
Gazley, who spoke with Williams for 21/2 hours in March 2016, said he views Williams to be "borderline" intellectually disabled.
Two other expert witnesses were hired to testify in the case - one hired by Williamsâ€™ lawyers and one hired by Trumbull prosecutors.
The defenseâ€™s expert testified earlier. The prosecutionâ€™s expert is expected to testify this afternoon or Friday.