Local News

Mentally Retarded Claim Will Delay Murder Suspect's Trial

Posted January 17, 2008 3:43 p.m. EST
Updated January 17, 2008 4:30 p.m. EST

— A motion seeking to declare a man retarded who is accused of kidnapping and killing a Wendell woman will delay his trial.

"We will be filing a formal motion that we have evidence that Antonio Davon Chance is mentally retarded, and we will be asking for a hearing in that matter," Wake County public defender Bryan Collins said Thursday.

Chance, 30, is charged with first-degree murder in the death of Cynthia Moreland, 48. Police said she was abducted from a parking garage beneath Progress Energy's headquarters in downtown Raleigh on Aug. 22, 2006.

Moreland's body was found behind an abandoned Harnett County barn on Sept. 1.

Wake County Assistant District Attorney Susan Spurlin plans to seek the death penalty when the case goes to trial.

That's set to begin Feb. 11, but Collins said he wanted the issue taken care of before trial. The motion is expected to delay it for several months, Spurlin said.

Collins said the motion has nothing to do with Chance's innocence or guilt but with a state law that prohibits mentally retarded people from being put to death. To be mentally retarded, a person has to have an IQ below 70.

Chief Resident Superior Court Judge Donald Stephens on Wednesday ordered Collins attorney to produce a report from an expert regarding Chance's mental capacity.

"Once we get that information, we'll have to do our own investigation to determine that the facts are supporting or not supporting that contention," Spurlin said.

Calls to Moreland's family were not immediately returned.