Kansas court avoids ruling on execution for student's death

Practice Focuses

The Kansas Supreme Court has postponed a decision on whether the state can execute a man convicted of kidnapping, raping and strangling a 19-year-old college student.

The high court on Friday upheld the capital murder conviction of Justin Eugene Thurber but returned his case to a lower court for another review of whether he's developmentally disabled.

The U.S. Supreme Court has deemed it unconstitutional to execute defendants with even mild developmental disabilities.

Thurber was sentenced to lethal injection for the January 2007 killing of Jodi Sanderholm. She was a pre-pharmacy student and dance team member at Cowley College.

The trial judge rejected the defense's request for a hearing on whether Thurber is developmentally disabled, ruling that the defense hadn't presented enough evidence to warrant it.

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