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Prosecutor can’t seek death against murder suspect

  • Updated

FLORENCE — A judge has told a Florence County prosecutor he cannot seek the death penalty against a murder suspect because mental health experts found the man is intellectually disabled.

Prosecutor Ed Clements says he expects 22-year-old David Johnson will be found competent to stand trial, and Clements plans to seek a sentence of life in prison without parole at next month’s trial.

Authorities say Johnson led three others in a plan to rob 69-year-old Wille Mae Hayes in her Florence home. Her body was found in a ditch in 2009 after she had been stabbed several times in the chest.

Clements says Johnson’s IQ was 58 in a test taken when he was 7, but he thought it had improved because Johnson was able to keep a job.

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