Court Could Overturn Kanka Conviction

by NBC10/AP | Apr 27, 2005
Court Could Overturn Kanka Conviction The man in prison for raping and murdering Megan Kanka should have his conviction and death sentence overturned because he is "borderline mentally retarded," according to his lawyer.

The argument stems from a U.S. Supreme Court decision and is part of the latest appeal of death-row inmate Jesse Timmendequas, the sex offender convicted of the 1994 kidnapping and strangulation of his 7-year-old neighbor in Hamilton.

The case led the nation and many states to adopt Megan's Laws, in which the names and addresses of sex offenders are made public.

Timmendequas, 38, was in court Monday as his public defender, William B. Smith, asked state Superior Court Judge Maria Marinari Sypek for a hearing to present evidence of the inmate's mental ability.

Smith also argued that defense lawyers for Timmendequas were ineffective because they failed to raise mental retardation during the penalty phase of his trial. He also claimed Timmendequas' mother was retarded.

"That is simply not true," Assistant Mercer County Prosecutor Dorothy Hersh said. "She tested at 73 (on the intelligence quotient), one point lower than the defendant."

Hersh said there was no need for a hearing. "There is no evidence of retardation," she said.

People are considered mildly mentally retarded if they have an IQ from 52 to 68 points. The Supreme Court in 2002 ruled that mentally retarded people could not be executed. Sypek made no immediate ruling.

Maureen Kanka, Megan's mother, told The Times of Trenton in Tuesday newspapers that she believes the conviction and death sentence will be upheld.

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Author: NBC10/AP

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