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Murder Suspect Claims Mental Retardation

Posted January 23, 2008
Updated January 24, 2008

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— Attorneys for a man charged in connection with the fatal stabbing of a Raleigh woman have filed a motion claiming he is mentally retarded.

That means Joseph Sanderlin might not face the death penalty when he goes to trial in April for the Nov. 8, 2005, death of Lauren Redman, 22.

Defense attorneys are seeking to have the issue decided in a pretrial hearing, Wake County District Attorney Colon Willoughby said.

Sanderlin's trial is scheduled for April.

Investigators said Redman was stabbed more than 20 times as she begged for her life inside her apartment on Walnut Creek Parkway. She managed to crawl outside and ask for help before she died.

In a taped confession to police, another man charged in the case, Byron Waring, said Sanderlin raped Redman before both men stabbed her.

In July, a jury sentenced Waring to death. A third suspect, George Sasser, faces a charge of accessory to murder after the fact.

Sanderlin's case is the second death penalty case in recent weeks in which mental retardation has been an issue.

Last week, an attorney for Antonio Davon Chance filed a similar motion that, if granted, would prevent prosecutors from seeking the death penalty. Chance is accused of killing a Wendell woman, Cynthia Moreland, in 2006.

State law prohibits mentally retarded people from being put to death. To be mentally retarded, a person has to have an IQ below 70.

Willoughby said that since the law passed, no Wake County cases have been challenged under it.


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  • random musings Jan 24, 2008

    Personally, I think anyone who kills another person is mentally retarded. Medically proven or otherwise...I also think (cause y'all really care...lol) that MANY of these people intentionally cheat to get a lower score and not as severe a sentence. Now, I don't know what the tests are, but I think they could 'play dumb'.

    Takes a smart cookie to do that! ;)

  • jurydoc Jan 24, 2008

    Just in case any of you are actually interested in the LAW that governs this, to be ruled mentally retarded, defendants must score 70 or below on an IQ test and must prove they had intellectual and adaptive disabilities BEFORE AGE 18 (emphasis added). So somebody cannot just take the test NOW and deliberately score low and claim mental retardation. And it was the SCOTUS that ruled that execution of the mentally retarded is unconstitutional in Atkins v Virginia. Finally, IF he is ruled mentally retarded, this does NOT abdicate him from responsiblity for his crime, it merely moves the death penalty off the table for consideration as a possible punishment. One more thing, mentally retarded and insanity are in no way equal under the law. They are entirely two different legal concepts that result in different outcomes.

  • USAFWife Jan 24, 2008

    BTW, No_more_NAACP...Thank you for your service to our country! We all appreciate it...whether we say so or not!

  • USAFWife Jan 24, 2008

    "Aren't many convicted serial killers (Jeffrey Dahmer for one) know to have been very intelligent, with high IQs?

    Being mean as hell has nothing to do with your intellect."

    Good point, doodad! Let's be honest...there are millions of people running around that are of below average intelligence and with varying degrees of mental retardation/abnormalities, and have never raped or killed anyone. (Some of them are too busy posting ignorant comments on WRAL/GOLO, but that's another story! :) ) Then you also have murderers/rapists who are intelligent, from upper- or middle-class homes, etc. There is no excuse for behavior like this...NONE!

    I also agree with Rev. RB (which isn't often :) ). People who commit these crimes are SUBHUMAN!

  • Raptor06 Jan 24, 2008

    ncstate27, get off your race soapbox. A killer is a killer regardless of color, and should be punished accordingly. I'm angry that so many of these killers are claiming to be retarded so they can escape the death penalty. Maybe we need to reevaluate what constitutes mental retardation. Maybe the victims need to claim retardation so the killers won't attack them. Let's value the victims, regardless of color.

  • ncstate27 Jan 24, 2008

    Anyone suprised this was off the front page of WRAL in less than half a day. If it was white on black crime it would be front page news for the rest of the month. You can try and hide black on white crime all you want WRAL/GOLO, but it will not work!

  • weasleyes Jan 23, 2008

    The guy that killed Cynthia Moreland murdered one of the greatest people that I have ever met in my life. She was bright, pleasant, a devout Christian, and a hard worker. I do not feel the least bit sorry for this bum, who murdered her, and ruined the lives of her and her wonderful family, whom I have known for years. And I am supposed to feel sorry for this worthless bum, just because his sleazy lawyer claims mental retardation? He knew enough to sell her cell phone, take her car, use her credit card, and sign one of her checks to the wrecker guy who pulled him out of the ditch! Bravo Sierra! It was so cold on Tuesday, his lawyer probably had his hands in his OWN pockets!

  • illegals--GO HOME Jan 23, 2008

    I have said this over and over.....who cares what the tests show his IQ to be. He had enough sense to try to cover up his crime and flee to avoid arrest......that speaks volumes as to his mental capacity.

    WE ARE TOO SOFT ON CRIME IN AMERICA....I love living here, but I do wish our penalties were like some countries where the crime rate is so much lower because of their penalty system.

  • blondton13 Jan 23, 2008

    Mentally retarded my behind.
    Stupid is as stupid does.
    He still deserves rightful punishment. If he is too incompetent for the death penalty, he's not for life in prison. Allowing him to go to a mental institution will also allow him the ability to get out once he's "cured."
    But you can't cure stupid.
    Here comes another decade of taxpayer money down the drain.

  • Adelinthe Jan 23, 2008

    Even mentally retarded people know that stabbing a woman 20 times is wrong, and this guy doesn't look that retarded, only subhuman.

    Praying for the woman's loved ones. Praying justice is served swiftly and harshly.

    God bless.

    Rev. RB