Trial delayed for man accused of fatal robbery in Illinois

James Watts (Source: HOPD)
James Watts
(Source: HOPD)

BENTON, Ill. (AP) — Attorneys for a man accused of fatally stabbing two bank workers and critically wounding a third in southern Illinois say he isn’t eligible for the death penalty because he’s intellectually disabled.

The Southern Illinoisan reports Judge Phil Gilbert has granted a motion made by the defense for a three-month continuance for an evidentiary hearing on the matter because James Watts’ mental status has yet to be determined. The federal court hearing is now scheduled for Jan. 23, and his trial has been delayed to June 2017.

In 2002, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled executions of people with intellectual disabilities are considered “cruel and unusual punishments.”

Watts has pleaded not guilty to charges of attempted armed bank robbery resulting in death and one count of being a felon in possession of a firearm in connection with the May 15, 2014 holdup in Cairo, Illinois.