RALEIGH, N.C. — 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.