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GRETNA, La. (AP) — A man convicted in the killing of a Baton Rouge, Louisiana, officer should be spared execution because of his intellectual disability, a federal appeals court has ruled.

The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Wednesday that 42-year-old Kevan Brumfield’s witnesses presented a strong and compelling view to determine Brumfield is intellectually disabled and therefore shouldn’t be executed, The Advocate reports ( ).

Brumfield was convicted in 1995 in the killing of police Cpl. Betty Smothers in 1993.

In 2002, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that executing people with intellectual disabilities is unconstitutional. Based on the decision, Brumfield asked for a hearing to spare him from execution. His case made its way through the state and federal courts — including the U.S. Supreme Court — before the 5th Circuit Court made its decision.

On Wednesday, the three-judge 5th Circuit panel agreed with U.S. District Court Judge James Brady’s 2012 ruling that Brumfield had a below-average IQ and an intellectual capacity of a middle-school student.

Nick Trenticosta, Brumfield’s attorney, said the decision gave him “overwhelming joy.”

“It took a long time to save a life,” he said.

Hillar Moore, the 19th Judicial District attorney, said it’s “highly likely” he will appeal the ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court, though he still must confer with other prosecutors and the victim’s family.

Brumfield and Henri Broadway of Baton Rouge were convicted and sentenced to death for ambushing Smothers on Jan. 7, 1993, as she was driving a grocery store manager to make a bank deposit.

The mother of six children, including Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame football player Warrick Dunn, the 36-year-old Smothers was working as an off-duty security officer when she was killed. Dunn, who was 18 at the time, went on to play at Florida State and then for 12 years in the NFL with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Atlanta Falcons.


Information from: The Advocate,