Senate Bill: Mentally Ill Could Be Spared In Death Penalty Cases

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COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) – A person judged to suffer from severe mental illness at the time of a killing that could result in a death sentence would be spared from capital punishment under a bill before Ohio lawmakers.

The proposed legislation would allow a hearing before trial on an offender’s mental illness and permit a judge to rule out the death penalty if severe mental illness is proven.

The bill sponsored by Sen. Bill Seitz, a Cincinnati Republican, was scheduled for a first hearing Wednesday before the Senate Criminal Justice Committee.

The bill would also allow current death row inmates to challenge their sentences on the basis of mental illness at the time of their crimes.

Illnesses covered by the bill include schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and major depressive disorder.