The state admits that King, now 53, “has been determined to be mentally retarded” by its expert, Dr. Gilbert S. Macvaugh III of Greenville.
Mentally retarded people cannot be put to death, but this finding does not change other issues before the U.S. District Court about King’s guilt.
The admission comes in a late-Wednesday filing to the Aberdeen court, which scheduled and then cancelled a Friday hearing on King’s mental state because the state’s report was not ready.
U.S. District Judge Sharion Aycock gave the state attorney general’s office until 5 p.m. Wednesday to file the report. The hearing has not been rescheduled.
King was sentenced to die by a Lowndes County jury in the death of 84-year-old Lela Patterson in 1980. Patterson was beaten, strangled and drowned at her home during a burglary.
King’s conviction and sentence were overturned on two previous state appeals. Then he was tried and convicted a third time in 2003 and sentenced to death. Initially, he was evaluated by a doctor as part of his defense.
His conviction was appealed to federal court in 2010 on numerous issues, including his mental state.