MARSHALL COUNTY, Ala. (WHNT) – Attorneys for a man charged in connection with killing three people filed a motion asking the state to prohibit the death penalty because the defendant is intellectually disabled.
Jimmy O’Neal Spencer was on parole when he allegedly murdered 7-year-old Colton Lee, his great-grandmother Marie Martin, and her neighbor Martha Reliford in Guntersville in July 2018.
Spencer is now awaiting trial for capital murder charges stemming from those three killings. He is charged with seven counts of capital murder in the case and prosecutors are seeking the death penalty.
However, his attorneys say he is not eligible for the death penalty under Alabama law because he “suffers from significantly subaverage intellectual functioning.”
Spencer was intellectually tested in December of 2021. He was determined to have “extremely low range” intelligence scores. Court records show he also failed multiple grades in school and never learned to read or write.
The state of Alabama issued a response stating Spencer does not meet the definition of an intellectually disabled person under Alabama law. Court records show that Spencer tested significantly higher when he took previous intelligence tests with the Alabama Department of Corrections.
The filing says the state believes Spencer has the “ability to feign his responses” making his IQ appear lower than it really is.
A hearing is set for October 17 before Spencer’s trial on the same day.