Judge: Mom's alcohol use won't halt man's death penalty case

AP News
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Posted: Nov 07, 2016 5:25 PM

BURLINGTON, Vt. (AP) — A federal judge in Vermont says a man can face a second death penalty trial even though his mother's alcohol use caused him developmental delays.

In a ruling issued Monday, U.S. District Court Judge Geoffrey Crawford refused to exempt Donald Fell because he has suffered from fetal alcohol spectrum disorder.

Attorneys for the former Rutland man had argued Fell shouldn't face possible execution. They say fetal alcohol spectrum disorder is the equivalent of intellectual disabilities that are recognized death penalty exemptions.

Crawford says the condition is not well enough understood to exempt a sufferer from the death penalty.

The 36-year-old Fell was convicted in 2005 and sentenced to death for the 2000 killing of Rutland supermarket worker Terry King. His conviction was thrown out due to juror misconduct.

A retrial is scheduled for next year.