Local News

Defense seeks hearing on suspect's mental retardation claim

Posted August 1, 2008
Updated August 14, 2008

— Lawyers for a man accused of killing a Progress Energy employee two years ago want a judge to reconsider a pre-trial hearing to determine whether their client is mentally retarded.

Superior Court Judge James Spencer Jr. denied the motion last Friday, but Bryan Collins and Karl Knudsen – defense attorneys for Antonio Davon Chance – want a new hearing on the matter.

Chance, 30, is charged with first-degree murder in the kidnapping, rape and death of Cynthia Moreland, whom police say was abducted from a parking garage in downtown Raleigh on Aug. 22, 2006.

Authorities found her body behind an abandoned barn in Harnett County 11 days later. Raleigh police say Chance tried to use Moreland's ATM card and that he called a tow truck when he got her car stuck at the site where her body was found and used Moreland's check to pay the tow truck driver.

State law prohibits executing mentally retarded people, those with an IQ below 70 and who had issues of adaptive functioning prior to age 18, if they are convicted of first-degree murder. Since it went into effect in 2001, 11 inmates have been removed from death row and sentenced to life in prison.

Chance's attorneys say their client meets the state's requirements, having deficiencies in at least five of 10 areas of adaptive functioning and having scored a full-scale IQ of 67 in September 2006 and a 66 on a November 2007 test.

In a report dated July 24, Dr. Mark Hazelrigg of Dorothea Dix Hospital wrote that he thinks Chance "does meet the criteria for mental retardation."

Prosecutors did not receive the report until Tuesday; the defense received the report Wednesday.

"The defendant contends that, had Dr. Hazelrigg's report been available to the court at the July 24 [sic], 2008, hearing, the ruling of the court would have been different as it would have been apparent to the court that there was not a genuine dispute among the experts," a defense motion filed Thursday states.

"We've received the motion, and we're obviously reviewing all the materials," said Wake County Assistant District Attorney Susan Spurlin.

Wake County District Attorney Colon Willoughby has generally objected to pre-trial hearings on retardation claims, having said he would prefer a jury to consider evidence during a trial instead of having a judge make the decision beforehand.

Defense attorneys have said deciding the matter before trial would save time, money and resources and narrow the issues in the case.

"Since all of the experts who have examined Mr. Chance are unanimously of the opinion that he is mentally retarded, it doesn't seem to be a wise use of scarce resources to go through a full capital trial," Knudsen said.

Cynthia Moreland's daughter, Keisha Mangum, said Friday that she does not believe Chance is mentally retarded and that the issue, which has indefinitely postponed Chance's trial, has added to her family's pain.

"I could care less," she said. "I hate to sound that way, but he took my mother's life, and we've been waiting two years, almost, and we haven't come to a conclusion yet."


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  • jmodlis Aug 1, 2008

    Has anybody noticed that he took the IQ tests AFTER the murder happened? How can that be solid evidence for his mental capabilities? It seems like being accused of murder might "affect" one's ability to properly take an IQ test, especially if one of the outcomes means that a "get out of jail free" is involved.

  • Iworkforaliving Aug 1, 2008

    Yet again, another waste of skin.

  • makeitright Aug 1, 2008

    What a Huge Crock from another set of Grand Standing Lawyers and the Judges that allow this to go on........ It's to the point where you can do ANYTHING and then act like you are loony, insane, etc and get away with it. No disrespeect meant to the unfortunate that are truly challenged. Really Really tired of this stuff continuing again and again....

  • dplowman Aug 1, 2008

    if I was up for murder and thought I might get the needle I would go stupd as well. The woman he murdered did not have a choice and he do'nt need one.

  • mmania Aug 1, 2008

    I say we're all retarded, some more than others.

  • PJM Aug 1, 2008

    A COMPLETE FOOL....there should not be a question whether or not he was or is retarded. He took a life, point blank, he did the crime...THE JUSTICE SYSTEM NEEDS TO STOP DANCING AROUND & DO WHAT NEEDS TO BE DONE. I suggest death penalty...he tortured that young lady...he should not be getting any privledges in or out of jail/prision

  • Coach K is GREAT Aug 1, 2008

    Goalieman actually antonio does have a mental health past as i was his nurse at central prison when he waa a teenager
    GOLO member since April 15, 2008
    August 1, 2008 12:58 p.m.

    So that's a good excuse for killing and trying to cover it up???

    People have all kind of mental illnesses, I think we're all in agreeance on that, but he knew what he was doing, and he should pay with his life for it ,as he took her life!

  • Coach K is GREAT Aug 1, 2008

    I just looked up retarded on google. This guy could NOT fit the description etc. He's a con man and a murderer period. It's typical though they do the crime but try and find ways out of paying for it!
    GOLO member since July 3, 2007
    August 1, 2008 8:48 a.m.
    Report abuse

    I know lawyers to what they need to do to save their clients life, probably on our dime in this case; however I REALLY hate the fact that a person who has been convicted even admitted he did it,under his lawyer's advisement I'm sure told him to admit he did it, so that we can play the mentally retarded card.

    I feel that once a person ADMITS guilt the book should be thrown at them, no excuses. An eye for an eye.

    What a slap in the face to the victims family...

  • hayco Aug 1, 2008

    "...This will, ultimately, save the state a considerable amount of money. On prior stories, that appears also to have been a significant issue for the bloodthirsty."

    Wow. I'm just a regular man that works everyday for a living, has a family that he loves and wishes to protect, and was always taught that slaughtering innocent people was a sin. I didn't realize that because I thought this particularly heinous crime deserved the ultimate punishment (which, by the way is still law in NC) that it qualified me as 'bloodthirsty'.

  • Coach K is GREAT Aug 1, 2008

    on, this was a well thoughtout crime He killed her, took her vehicle, carried her across county lines, and dumped her body in an out of the way place. He knew what he was doing and he knew it was wrong. If not, he would have killed her, taken her money, cards, jewelry, and car and took off. The fact that he was smart enough to hide her body makes him smart enough to win a trip to death row!!

    This is horrible. Another case of a good person, working person, who was trying to provide for her family, just to have her life taken away by someone who was too lazy to work. We have to start taking back our rights!
    computer trainer
    GOLO member since January 31, 2008
    August 1, 2008 7:55 a.m.

    Well said trainer, I'm in 100% agreeance with you!!!!