ELYRIA — Accused killer Donzelle Crosby does not have the mental capacity to be executed if convicted of aggravated murder, Lorain County Common Pleas Judge Raymond Ewers ruled Monday.
Tests performed by experts for both prosecutors and defense attorneys determined that Crosby has an IQ of 52. The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that those with mental handicaps cannot be executed for their crimes.
Dave Doughton, one of Crosby’s attorneys, said the threshold in Ohio for executing someone with limited intellectual capabilities is an IQ of 70, although a recent Supreme Court ruling has allowed for a margin of error and other considerations in reaching those decisions.
Even with the margin of error factored in, Doughton said Crosby wouldn’t have had a high enough IQ to be executed.
Doughton said although his client no longer has to fear a death sentence if convicted in the March 1, 2011, shooting death of Jason Smith during what Lorain police have described as the botched robbery of a West 17th Street drug house, he will still face trial in the case.
With execution no longer an option, Doughton said the maximum sentence Crosby could receive is life without parole if he is convicted.
County Prosecutor Dennis Will said that based on what his office knew about the results of the testing Crosby underwent, he wasn’t surprised by Ewers’ ruling.
“We anticipated that was a probable outcome,” he said.
Crosby is not the first person in Lorain County to avoid a trip to the state’s execution chamber because of his limited mental acuity.
County Common Pleas Judge Christopher Rothgery commuted convicted killer Raymond Smith’s death sentence to life in prison in 2008 after determining Smith had an IQ of 69.
Smith’s attorneys have continued to challenge his conviction for his role in the 1994 murder of police informant Ronald Lally in federal court.
Stanley Jalowiec, who also was convicted and sentenced to death in the case, is trying to win a new trial based on allegations of police and prosecutorial misconduct. Jalowiec is appealing a decision rejecting his request for a new trial.
In his case, Crosby is accused of shooting Jason Smith during the robbery. Three other men, Aaron Rodriguez, Eddie Velez and Jeremy Brown, have all taken plea deals and received prison sentences for their involvement in Smith’s death.
Only Crosby, the alleged gunman, was indicted on capital murder charges.
Doughton said that, given the circumstances of the killing, he isn’t certain that a death sentence would have been imposed upon his client, even if Crosby hadn’t had such a low IQ.
“I doubt the jury would have given him death based on these facts,” he said.