Condemned killer said to be mentally retarded
Citing the “Mount Kilimanjaro of evidence” levied against Shedran Williams, a prosecutor filed court papers Friday urging a state judge to reject the condemned Baton Rouge police-killer’s request for a new trial.
“Nine witnesses saw (Williams) commit the first-degree murder of Lieutenant (Vickie) Wax and then shoot two other people. There is simply no question as to (his) guilt,” East Baton Rouge Parish Assistant District Attorney Dylan Alge argues in a 76-page response to Williams’ 122-page petition for post-conviction relief.
In that petition, lodged last summer, an attorney for the 43-year-old Williams argues he should be retried in the 2004 shooting death of Wax because a “perfect storm” of factors produced an unjust first-degree murder conviction and death sentence in 2006.
Capital Post-Conviction Project of Louisiana Director Gary Clements alleges Williams is mentally retarded, that the work of his trial attorneys was deficient, and that prosecutors discriminated against black prospective jurors.
But Alge denies each of those allegations and maintains Williams is neither mentally retarded nor was he insane when he gunned down Wax, 51, outside a now-closed Walmart near Perkins Road and Acadian Thruway. She was working a security detail.
Alge says the Louisiana Supreme Court rejected Williams’ mental retardation claim when the justices affirmed his conviction and death sentence in 2009. The U.S. Supreme Court refused to review the case in 2010.
Clements contends Williams, of Baton Rouge, was not competent to stand trial and is mentally retarded and therefore ineligible for execution. Williams pleaded not guilty and not guilty by reason of insanity in his case.
After Williams’ conviction, his defense attorneys tried to persuade jurors to impose a life sentence by claiming Williams lacked the mental capacity to understand the severity of his actions.
Louis Cenac, a psychiatrist called by the defense, testified he considered Williams to be both mentally retarded and an extremely dangerous person. Donald Hoppe, a psychologist called by prosecutors, testified that tests measuring Williams’ mental capacity found he was not mentally retarded.
In Louisiana, it is up to the jury to decide whether a person is mentally retarded.
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2005 that death penalties cannot be imposed on mentally retarded people.
State District Judge Mike Erwin is scheduled to decide July 10 whether Williams is entitled to a hearing on his post-conviction relief claims. The judge could dismiss the petition outright without holding a hearing.
Williams had been arrested 21 times and convicted five times prior to the fatal shooting. His last conviction resulted in a 10-year sentence for three counts of burglary. He served five years and was released 28 days before Wax was killed.