Attorneys: Death row inmate is mentally disabled

Attorneys for a Tennessee death row inmate are asking a federal judge to spare him from facing the death penalty because he is mentally disabled.

FILE -- Ricky Bell, then the warden at Riverbend Maximum Security Institution in Nashville, Tenn., gives a tour of the prison's execution chamber on Oct. 13, 1999. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey, File)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- Attorneys for a Tennessee death row inmate are asking a federal judge to spare him from facing the death penalty because he is mentally disabled.

Byron Lewis Black was convicted in 1989 of killing his girlfriend, Angela Clay, and her two young daughters, Latoya and Lakeisha, in Nashville. The 6th Circuit Court of Appeals remanded the case back to district court after deciding his claims were not adequately considered by a state appeals court.

Oral arguments are scheduled for Thursday afternoon. Prosecutors argue that Black's scores on IQ tests taken before he turned 18 were not less than 70, which is a factor in determining mental disability. His attorneys say they are unable to communicate with Black because of his intellectual disability and argue that clinical evaluation should also be considered.


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