Irick attorneys work to prove client isn't competent to be executed

5:40 PM, Aug 16, 2010   |    comments
Billy Ray Irick (photo courtesy Tennessee Department of Correction)
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Attorneys for convicted killer Billy Ray Irick Monday asked a Knox County judge to find Irick not competent to be executed.

A jury convicted Irick of raping and killing a 7-year-old Knoxville girl he had been baby-sitting in 1985.

Tennessee law essentially says a death row inmate cannot be deemed fit for execution if they are not able to comprehend how the crime they are convicted of fits into the punishment of death.


The state Supreme Court has set a Dec. 7 execution date for Irick.

In Knox County Monday, Irick's attorneys used psychological witnesses to explore Irick's childhood.  They argue a dysfunctional family led to Irick not receiving the type of mental health treatments he needed as early as 6 years old.

A psychologist testified today Irick has the mental capabilities of a 7 to 9 year old child.  He also testified a child of that age has some understanding of how punishment would follow a crime.

Two tests indicated Irick's intelligence is well above that considered disabled in Tennessee.  Those tests showed Irick had an IQ of 84, and then an IQ of 96.

Prosecutors argued Irick does understand what is happening in terms of the capital punishment he faces.  Also, they point to the fact that Irick has been involved in no "mental health emergencies"  while in state custody.





The hearing is expected to resume Tuesday.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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