Hearing begins on whether death penalty should remain for Andre Williams


By Ed Runyan

runyan@vindy.com

WARREN

Testimony began Monday in a hearing in Trumbull County Common Pleas Court to determine whether Andre Williams, 49, should be spared the death penalty for killing George Melnick, 65, and assaulting his wife, Katherine, 64, in 1988.

The hearing was ordered in July 2015 by the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of appeals. It said the court must reassess its earlier conclusions that Williams isn’t intellectually disabled enough to escape death for his crimes.

The hearing is before Judge W. Wyatt McKay. The 6th Circuit said Judge McKay and the 11th District Court of Appeals should have considered evidence relating Williams having an IQ score of 67 at age 15. Williams also had IQ scores in the 70s at other times.

In testimony Monday, Cynthia Hartung, a clinical psychologist, testified as to the intellectual testing she did recently on Williams.

The test has 300 questions directed at Williams and each of the people Hartung interviewed who knew him before Williams went to prison.

LuWayne Annos, assistant Trumbull County prosecutor, questioned Hartung about examples Hartung gave in her report of comments people made about Williams.

For example, Williams was reported to be unable to take medications on his own, but Annos pointed out that in prison records, Williams complained about not getting his medication for high blood pressure.

“Does that indicate to you, doctor, that he does take his own medication and, in fact, if he doesn’t get it, he points it out to people?” “No,” Hartung said.

She said that all examples Annos provided of things Williams had done in prison that were contrary to what people had said about him in society are irrelevant.

First, people in prison are probably not required to “remember to take” medications like people in society, she said. People in prison can function at a higher level on certain tasks than people in society because prison is structured, and inmates have few other tasks required of them.

Hartung’s testimony resumes today. A co-defendant, Christopher W. Daniel, 47, has served 27 years of his sentence of 37 years to 100 years for his role in the crimes.

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