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Low IQ Leads To Death Row Reversal

June 30, 1999

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) _ A man convicted of three killings was taken off Nebraska’s death row today under a new state law banning the execution of the mentally retarded.

Clarence Victor, 66, is the second convict to win a reduction of sentence to life in prison under the 1998 law.

Tests had placed Victor’s IQ at 65. The law made it illegal to execute anyone with an IQ below 70.

Victor was sentenced to death in 1988 for the 1987 beating death of Alyce Singleton of Omaha. He also had been convicted of manslaughter in 1964 for strangling a 40-year-old woman, and of second-degree murder in 1976 for slashing the throat of a 24-year-old woman.

In Lincoln, state Attorney General Don Stenberg said he would appeal today’s ruling by Douglas County District Judge J. Michael Coffey because the law affects people whose sentences had already become final. ``That power rests exclusively with Board of Pardons,″ he said.

If the life sentence survives the appeal, Victor won’t be eligible for parole for at least 20 years and he also faces a consecutive six-year sentence for using a deadly weapon in the 1987 murder.

Nine people remain on Nebraska’s death row.

The law was first applied in January to Jerry Simpson, 42, who was sentenced to die for the 1993 stabbing death of a fellow inmate. A judge accepted reports placing Simpson’s IQ at 67 or 68.

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