A prosecutor and attorneys for Aramis Jackson are asking a Baton Rouge state judge to resolve a split between two psychologists and decide whether the man accused of fatally shooting a woman and wounding her young daughter during a 2010 home invasion in Beauregard Town is intellectually disabled.
It’s a move that would take the crucial determination of intellectual capacity out of the hands of a jury.
Accused killers found to be intellectually disabled, formerly called mentally retarded, cannot be executed if convicted of first-degree murder.
At this point in the 5-year-old case, the East Baton Rouge Parish District Attorney’s Office intends to seek the death penalty if the 25-year-old Jackson is convicted of first-degree murder in the slaying of Alexandra Engler, 42. He also is charged with attempted first-degree murder of Ariana Engler, who was 9 years old when she was shot.
A California psychologist hired by Jackson’s attorneys concluded earlier this year that he is intellectually disabled, but a New Orleans psychologist hired by the state found last month that Jackson is not mentally disabled.
That led prosecutor Darwin Miller and Jackson’s attorneys, David Price and Mario Guadamud, to ask state District Judge Tony Marabella to settle the matter.
“The State of Louisiana and defense counsel are jointly requesting that the court hold an evidentiary hearing to resolve the issue relating to ‘intellectual disability’ prior to a jury trial in this case,” they wrote in a motion filed Thursday.
The prosecutor and defense lawyers are asking for a hearing March 4.
Jackson is accused of shooting Alexandra Engler to death inside her Beauregard Street home on Sept. 24, 2010, and shooting her daughter multiple times. The young girl survived.
Witnesses identified Jackson, of Baton Rouge, as the man they observed in the area shortly after the crime carrying a gun and television believed stolen from the Engler home, police have said.
A forensic consultant, hired by the prosecution, who specializes in footwear impressions testified at a hearing in 2013 that a bloody shoeprint found in the kitchen of the Engler home was left by one of Jackson’s shoes.
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.