Isaiah Doyle, a 28 year-old who confessed to killing a conveneience store clerk in Jefferson Parish, La., during a robbery in 2005, has been sentenced to death. His attorneys argued that he was mentally handicapped in order to save him from the death penalty. According to WWL, "a psychologist for the defense said, 'Without a doubt, he has mental retardation.'”
The prosecution offered its own expert witnesses who disagreed. Doyle himself, however, most likely sealed his fate with violent outbursts in the courtroom and threats against the jury saying that he had no remorse, and while his words seemed like those of a maniac, they did not sound like the words of a man with a low I.Q.
From the Times Picayune's story:
Doyle told the jury that he shot store clerk Hwa Lee four times only because the gun jammed and prevented him shooting her more.Per the same story, Doyle agreed that he has a "mental illness, but also (told the jury that he) knows how to manipulate the system."
"The only reason she was shot four times is because the gun jammed,'' he said. "Otherwise I would have emptied the gun in her f--- head.''
Later, he told the jury that he would kill them all if he had an AK-47 and pointed to one juror and said he wanted to cut off his head.
Some experts agreed that Doyle is "mentally retarded," but Dr. Mike Chafetz, a neuropsychologist testifying for the prosecution via Skype differed. WVUE reports his testimony as follows:
"He (Isaiah Doyle) has a savviness to manipulate things in the jail and find ways to get nasty pictures," said Chafetz. Chafetz also said the depression and anxiety show Doyle has a "mental illness."The WWL story quotes Chafetz saying that Doyle shows "very clever and adaptive functioning in many ways and is not mentally retarded.” Other sources report the neuropsychologist to say Doyle has some learning disabilities.
The question for society then is this: Would Doyle have become what he is if we had more help for people with learning disabilities and mental illness?
Given the make-up of Jefferson Parish, the race of the victim, a "hard-working" Vietnamese young woman, and the race of the confessed murderer, undoubtedly racial anxiety was a factor in this case on subconscious levels, and Doyle's appearance and rage must have projected every stereotype of the black man as savage. However, I think that even if he had been white, the decision would have been the same. How could the jurors not come to the conclusion it did given his threats against them and his comments about feeling no remorse? They would consider, if nothing else, that he wanted to kill them with an AK-47, that he wanted to "cut off" one of their heads. Do we really think jurors can put that kind of spectacle and language out of their minds.
The Doyle family, as you will see in WWL's video, has apologized for Isaiah Doyle's crime. However, WVUE reports that his mother hoped the jury would find compassion for her son:
Doyle's mother, Yvette, broke down in tears after hearing the verdict. She was too emotional to talk afterwards, but during jury deliberations, she told FOX 8 she had hoped the jury would spare her son's life. "My son is mentally retarded. He has been you know. He has been diagnosed since he was five. They had all the evidence that he has this problem, and it had gotten worse over the years," said Yvette Doyle.
I suspect his family members have been on their knees many a night pleading, "Lord, what can we do about Isaiah?"
Within hours of Doyle's threats against them, reports the Picayune, the jury reached a unanimous decision that Doyle be sentenced to death by lethal injection.