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Attorneys: Fatal arson suspect shouldn’t face death penalty

January 25, 2020 GMT

AKRON, Ohio (AP) — Attorneys for an Ohio man accused of killing nine of his neighbors in two separate arson fires have argued in a court filing that he cannot be sentenced to death because of extensive brain damage and cognitive disabilities.

Stanley Ford, 60, faces aggravated murder charges in the deaths of two adults in an Akron home in 2016 and two adults and five children in another Akron home in 2017. Investigators have said Ford targeted the occupants because he was angry with them.

Defense attorneys said in a motion this week that psychiatric evaluations show Ford has the mental capacity of a a juvenile or an intellectually disabled person, which makes him ineligible for a death sentence because of the U.S. Constitution’s prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment, the Akron Beacon Journal reported.

Assistant Summit County prosecutors disagreed. They wrote that Ford has a “rational understanding” of the potential punishment he faces if convicted.

Judge Christine Croce will decide whether Ford can be sentenced to death. She found him competent to stand trial earlier this month.