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High court told death-row inmate incompetent

By The Associated Press

This article was published January 9, 2014 at 1:02 p.m.

LITTLE ROCK — A lawyer for a condemned inmate convicted of a Crawford County killing told the Arkansas Supreme Court that Rickey Dale Newman was "functionally incompetent" to understand his capital murder charge and participate his defense.

Attorney Julie Brain told the court Thursday that Newman has an IQ of 67 and that he couldn't meet the standard of "rationally" assisting in his defense. She says the trial judge was wrong to have ruled him competent.

Deputy Attorney General Darnisa Johnson argued that Newman was able to invoke his constitutional rights and otherwise indicate he understood the proceedings.

Newman was convicted after a one-day trial in 2002 in the murder and mutilation death of 46-year-old Marie Cholette, who was killed at a transient camp near Van Buren.

The high court will rule later.

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