Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Judge Rules Triple Killer Intellectually Disabled, Not Eligible For Death Penalty

UNIONTOWN, Pa. (AP) — A man convicted of the 2002 slayings of a Pennsylvania couple and their pregnant 17-year-old daughter has an intellectual disability that makes him ineligible for the death penalty, a judge said Wednesday in throwing out the sentence.



Mark Duane Edwards is ineligible for the death penalty under Pennsylvania law and a U.S. Supreme Court decision, Fayette County President Judge James Wagner Jr. said before resentencing Edwards to four consecutive life sentences.



Edwards, 32, has been on death row for more than a decade after his Fayette County murder convictions for the deaths of Larry Bobish, 50; Joanna Bobish, 42; and their daughter, Krystal, in North Union Township. The couple's 12-year-old son was shot and stabbed but escaped.



Prosecutors said Edwards killed the family members because he feared prosecution for a robbery a few days earlier. They said he then set fire to the residence to cover the crime.



Expert witnesses testified over the last few days that Edwards has an IQ of 75 or lower and has adaptive functioning deficits and that both conditions began before he was 18.



A doctor testified that Edwards' mother said she drank alcohol for two months before realizing she was pregnant and that Edwards' small stature, facial anomalies and mental impairment led him to diagnose fetal alcohol syndrome.



A prosecutor questioned whether Edwards' poor academic performance could have stemmed from poor attendance and whether he may have dropped out because he preferred making money selling drugs to schoolwork. But a psychologist responded that Edwards may have been skipping school because it was too hard.



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