U.S. District Judge Nicholas Garaufis, who presided over Ronell Wilson's trial in 2006, said he is "significantly sub-average" but does not meet the standard set by the Supreme Court when it outlawed death sentences for suffering from "mental retardation," the New York Daily News reported. His decision would allow a new sentencing hearing for Wilson to proceed in the next few months.
Garaufis said his decision means Wilson can be executed: "This does not mean that he will receive -- or deserves to receive -- the death penalty."
Wilson was convicted in federal court of killing Rodney Andrews and James Nemorin, New York City detectives who were making undercover gun buys in Staten Island. The jury sentenced him to death, but a federal appeals court reversed the sentence.
The judge said eight of nine intelligence tests administered to Wilson suggested he does not meet the Supreme Court standard. Witnesses also testified at a hearing in November that Wilson reads books, can play chess and maintains a Facebook page.
This week, a female guard at the Metropolitan Correctional Center who is pregnant with Wilson's child was charged with sexually abusing him. Wilson apparently deliberately impregnated her in the belief that might make his execution less likely.
New York state has not executed anyone in decades and currently has no death penalty law. Wilson was the first person to be sentenced to death in a federal court in New York since the U.S. government reinstated the death penalty in 1988.