ILNews

SCOTUS denies Vanderburgh County case

Michael W. Hoskins
January 1, 2008
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The nation's highest court won't take a Vanderburgh County case decided last year by the Indiana Supreme Court, which by a split vote reinstated the death sentence for a man convicted of murdering his wife and two young children.

At its weekly private conference March 28, the U.S. Supreme Court denied certiorari in Paul M. McManus v. State of Indiana, No. 07-8435. After ruling in State of Indiana v. Paul M. McManus, No. 82S00-0503-PD-78, June 27, 2007, the Indiana Supreme Court denied a rehearing in September, and McManus appealed to SCOTUS in December 2007.

This denial means the state court's 3-2 decision stands, reversing a ruling by a lower court that McManus was mentally retarded and should be sentenced to life without parole.

McManus was convicted of the 2001 shooting murders of his wife and two children, and sentenced to death. He petitioned for post-conviction relief in 2005 after the state justices affirmed his convictions and sentence. His main argument rejected at the time was that he wasn't competent to stand trial. But in March 2006, Senior Judge William J. Brune ruled McManus was retarded and therefore couldn't be executed. The state appealed and won.

Justices Ted Boehm and Robert D. Rucker dissented from the majority of Chief Justice Randall T. Shepard and Justices Brent Dickson and Frank Sullivan.

Dissenting justices relied on a ruling in Pruitt v. State, 834 N.E.2d 90, 104 (Ind. 2005) that affirmed a finding the defendant wasn't mentally retarded despite "significant evidence suggesting he was."

But the majority disagreed.

"The post-conviction court's finding that McManus possesses significantly subaverage intellectual functioning was clearly erroneous," Chief Justice Shepard wrote.

"In sum, McManus does not satisfy the intellectual functioning or adaptive behavior prongs. As such, the rule of Atkins does not bar the death penalty."
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  1. He did not have an "unlicensed handgun" in his pocket. Firearms are not licensed in Indiana. He apparently possessed a handgun without a license to carry, but it's not the handgun that is licensed (or registered).

  2. Once again, Indiana's legislature proves how friendly it is to monopolies. This latest bill by Hershman demonstrates the lengths Indiana's representatives are willing to go to put big business's (especially utilities') interests above those of everyday working people. Maassal argues that if the technology (solar) is so good, it will be able to compete on its own. Too bad he doesn't feel the same way about the industries he represents. Instead, he wants to cut the small credit consumers get for using solar in order to "add a 'level of certainty'" to his industry. I haven't heard of or seen such a blatant money-grab by an industry since the days when our federal, state, and local governments were run by the railroad. Senator Hershman's constituents should remember this bill the next time he runs for office, and they should penalize him accordingly.

  3. From his recent appearance on WRTV to this story here, Frank is everywhere. Couldn't happen to a nicer guy, although he should stop using Eric Schnauffer for his 7th Circuit briefs. They're not THAT hard.

  4. They learn our language prior to coming here. My grandparents who came over on the boat, had to learn English and become familiarize with Americas customs and culture. They are in our land now, speak ENGLISH!!

  5. @ Rebecca D Fell, I am very sorry for your loss. I think it gives the family solace and a bit of closure to go to a road side memorial. Those that oppose them probably did not experience the loss of a child or a loved one.

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