Psychologists say Petetan has mental disability, state disagrees - KXXV-TV News Channel 25 - Central Texas News and Weather for Waco, Temple, Killeen |


Psychologists say Petetan has mental disability, state disagrees

WACO, TX (KXXV) - The defense rested its case without calling Carnell Petetan Jr. to testify in his own behalf in the sentencing phase of his capital murder trial. They say Petetan is mentally incompetent and can't be executed, but prosecutors strongly disagree.

Unlike Thursday, there were no delays to the testimony, but the defense and prosecution got deep into the details of several mental tests conducted on Petetan.

Dr. Ellis Craig says he gave Petetan and several members of his family an adaptive behavior test. The retroactive test would help show if Petetan was eligible to be labeled for mental retardation before he was 18 years old.

The doctor said Petetan's adaptive limitations outweighed his minimal skills. Those skills included every day activities such as administering first aid and housekeeping.

The prosecution argued there were flaws in the behavior test because Petetan never had a chance to learn those skills because he was in jail for 20 years while he was a teenager. Also since his mother, siblings and uncle were questioned about Petetan's past as well, the state believed they had a vested interest to save Petetan, and altered their answers to do so.   

Another psychologist, Dr. Joan Mayfield, also testified and said she gave Petetan a comprehensive neuropsychological test a year ago. That test measured various intellectual functions, from learning and memory to visual perception. Dr. Mayfield says based off her results and prior tests Petetan took, she believes he had a mental disability as a child. She also said Petetan had global deficits in all the test he took.

The state argued that Petetan knew he could get the death penalty and deceived his way through the testing. They said he had reached out to his uncle two months before meeting with Dr. Mayfield, and told him that he believed the state was going to seek the death penalty.

The prosecution also said there are studies that show more than 50 percent of inmates who take mental tests malinger during testing if they think it helps them in a trial. The state asked the doctor about the study, and she agreed that those results were true.

Because of Friday's long testimony the state's rebuttal witnesses will speak on Monday. Judge Ralph Strother says the jury will more than likely not get to deliberate a sentence until Tuesday, April 29.
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