A Baton Rouge man accused in the 2010 home-invasion slaying of a woman and wounding of her young daughter in Beauregard Town is intellectually disabled and cannot be executed if convicted, one of his attorneys told a state judge Friday.
Aramis Jackson, 25, is charged with first-degree murder in the Sept. 24, 2010, shooting death of Alexandra Engler, 42, and attempted first-degree murder in the shooting of her then-9-year-old daughter, Ariana, who survived despite being shot multiple times.
East Baton Rouge Parish prosecutors have said they intend to seek the death penalty, but on Friday, Jackson’s attorney David Price notified the state that a psychologist hired by the defense has concluded Jackson is intellectually disabled, formerly known as mentally retarded.
The U.S. Supreme Court has barred the execution of mentally retarded people.
At Price’s request, and with no objection from prosecutor Darwin Miller, state District Judge Tony Marabella canceled Jackson’s July 6 trial date. The judge did not set a new date.
Prosecutors will now hire their own expert to evaluate Jackson and reach a conclusion as to his intellectual capacity.
It will be up to the judge to decide whether Jackson is intellectually disabled.
If Jackson is deemed ineligible for execution, he would face an automatic sentence of life in prison if convicted of first-degree murder.
Police have said witnesses identified Jackson as the person they saw in the area shortly after the crime carrying a gun and a large flat-screen television believed stolen from the Engler home.
William Bodziak, a forensic consultant who specializes in footwear impressions, testified at a hearing in December 2013 that a bloody shoeprint found in the kitchen of the Engler home on Beauregard Street was left by one of Jackson’s shoes. Bodziak was hired by the prosecution.
District Attorney Hillar Moore III has said previously that the shoeprint matched shoes found in Jackson’s possession, but he would not say if Jackson was wearing the shoes when he was arrested.
The gun used in the fatal home invasion has never been found, but prosecutors have said one of two unfired bullets found in Jackson’s pants pocket four weeks before the shooting matches evidence collected at the murder scene.
The .45-caliber bullet seized from Jackson in August 2010 was not involved in the fatal shooting, but Louisiana State Police Crime Laboratory reports indicate the bullet, and several .45-caliber shell casings located at the murder scene, share the same markings.
Follow Joe Gyan Jr. on Twitter, @JoeGyanJr.