RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — North Carolina's House approved a ban on
mentally retarded inmates after
legislators whose family members were murdered spoke
in favor of it. North Carolina is the latest state
to take up the divisive issue. Sixteen states have
banned executions of the mentally retarded, with Missouri the latest
to approve such legislation two weeks ago. The North
Carolina legislation would ban executions for anyone with an IQ of 70
or less and require a defendant to exhibit evidence of mental retardation
prior to the crime. ``If I could speak to daddy
tonight, he would say, `If the person that murdered
me was mentally incompetent, don't kill him,''' said Republican Rep.
Wilma Sherrill, whose father was slain 20 years ago at a tobacco barn.
Many of Sherrill's Republican colleagues voted against the
bill, saying it was an attempt to erode the death
penalty in the state. The measure was approved 64-44
and sent to the Senate, where a similar version has been approved.