LENOIR, N.C. (AP) -- Lawyers for a North Carolina man accused of beating his girlfriend to death say he can't be tried for his life because his IQ is so low he was mentally disabled.
The News-Topic of Lenoir reported that Victoria Jayne wants a judge to rule out capital punishment because a psychologist determined Michael Joseph Whisnant had an IQ of only 59. State law bars the death penalty for defendants with an IQ of 70 or less who are deemed mentally retarded.
Judge Thomas Edwards is allowing prosecutors to conduct their own evaluation at a state mental hospital ahead of a May 5 hearing.
Whisnant is charged with killing 38-year-old Tammy Benge Cassels. Lenoir police found her wrapped in a comforter in the home Whisnant shared with his mother.