Kentucky judge rules death penalty protocol unconstitutional

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — A judge has ruled Kentucky’s death penalty protocol is unconstitutional because it doesn’t automatically suspend execution of prisoners with intellectual disabilities.

The Courier Journal reports Franklin County Circuit Judge Phillip Shepherd said Tuesday the rules are flawed because they would allow execution of a prisoner with intellectual disabilities if the prisoner declines further appeals. The ruling came on a motion brought by a dozen death row inmates and filed by the Department of Public Advocacy.

Shepherd noted the U.S. Supreme Court prohibits execution of intellectually disabled people.

Assistant Public Advocate David Barron said the ruling continues a stay that was already in place because of questions about Kentucky’s means of lethal injection, as well as other issues.

Spokesman Kenneth Mansfield of the state attorney general’s office, which defended the regulations, said that office is reviewing the ruling.