Judge replaces death penalty with ‘life’ for Philadelphia officer’s killer

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A judge’s ruling has moved a man who killed a Philadelphia Police Officer off of death row.

Edward Bracey was convicted and sentenced to die for the 1991 murder of Philadelphia Police Officer Danny Boyle. Boyle was just 21 when he pulled Bracey over for driving a stolen car.

Based on a U.S. Supreme Court ruling barring executions of people with severe intellectual disabilities, Philadelphia Judge Teresa Sarmina replaced Bracey’s death sentence with life without parole.

First Assistant Philadelphia District Attorney Edward McCann disagrees with Sarmina, saying in a 1998 hearing Bracey’s own experts testified he was competent. 

“One testified that defendant’s IQ score was quote five points higher that one would need to get to actually be classified as mentally retarded,” McCann said. “A second flatly said that defendant is not mentally retarded quote. A third said that defendants IQ score was in the borderline range rather than the mentally retarded range.”

Marc Bookman of the Atlantic Center for Capital Representation, which helped with this case, says Bracey is a good example of what the Supreme Court had in mind. 

“What the court decided is that people who are intellectually disabled are less culpable of the crime they commit, it doesn’t mean they are not to be punished, it doesn’t mean they aren’t to be convicted, it just means they aren’t to be executed,” Bookman said.

There are nearly 200 people on death row in Pennsylvania. The commonwealth last executed someone in 1999.

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