Public Defender Asks Court To Stop Execution

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - The IQ of an inmate scheduled to receive the death penalty in August for murdering an East Cleveland man could be below the threshold established by a U.S. Supreme Court ruling prohibiting executions of mentally retarded inmates, his lawyer said Wednesday.

The Ohio Public Defender's Office asked the Ohio Supreme Court to stop the execution of Greg Lott, convicted in the 1986 murder of John McGrath, who was attacked and set on fire in his home. The court has scheduled his execution for Aug. 27.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled June 20 that the execution of mentally retarded inmates violates the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution's prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment.

The ruling means that people charged with a killing cannot not face a death sentence if they can show they are mentally retarded, generally defined as having an IQ of 70 or lower.

The court left it to states to develop their own systems to ensure that mentally retarded people are not executed.

Assistant public defender Joe Bodine said the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation has measured Lott's IQ at 72.

Bodine said that number falls within the five-point margin of error accepted by the American Psychiatric Association, meaning Lott's actual IQ could be as low as 67.

Last week, the public defender's office filed an appeal with the Ohio Supreme Court, arguing prosecutors concealed evidence that could have pointed to Lott's innocence.

The defense attorneys said the jury never was told that McGrath described a suspect who did not match Lott's physical description before he died.

A call seeking comment from the Cuyahoga County prosecutor's office was not returned.

(Copyright 2002 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)