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Archive for Monday, March 12, 2007

Man who killed 9-year-old girl in Kansas won’t be executed in Texas

March 12, 2007

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— The man who raped and murdered a 9-year-old Nancy Shoemaker in Wichita in 1990 will not be executed in Texas for another girl's murder.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry on Friday commuted the sentence for Doil Lane to life in prison, after courts in that state found that Lane was mentally retarded. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2002 that executing mentally retarded inmates was unconstitutional.

However, because Lane was not found to be retarded in Kansas, he could be returned to the state to serve a 62 1/2-year sentence for killing Nancy.

Kansas did not have the death penalty when Lane was convicted of kidnapping Nancy on July 30, 1990, as she walked to a convenience store in south Wichita to buy soda for her sick brother. Her remains were found in February 1991 in Sumner County.

Lane was later convicted of killing 8-year-old Bertha Martinez, who was raped, stabbed and strangled after being kidnapped March 20, 1980, in San Marcos, Texas.

Lane, 45, was convicted of murder in both states in the 1990s. A co-defendant, Donnie Wacker, is serving 15 years to life for helping to kidnap Nancy.

During a court hearing last fall in Texas, prosecutors did not contest arguments by Lane's lawyers that he was mentally retarded - prompting Perry's action on Friday.

That action disappointed Bo Shoemaker, Nancy's father, and Sedgwick County District Attorney Nola Foulston, who prosecuted Lane.

Foulston said that after the Supreme Court ruling, she tried to get Texas prosecutors to argue that Lane was not retarded.

"We knew this was coming," she said. "We were vociferous in our arguments against it, but the governor has made that determination."

Lane was prosecuted in Kansas under a "hard 40" law that allowed juries to impose 40-year minimum sentences for those convicted of certain murders.

The law did not apply to defendants deemed to be mentally retarded.

"He was low-functioning. He held a job. He had a car. He had his own place. He interacted with people. While he was low-functioning, that doesn't mean he was mentally retarded," Foulston said.

The rape and aggravated kidnapping convictions added 22 1/2 years to Lane's hard-40 Kansas sentence. If he had been found to be mentally retarded, his sentence would have been cut by almost 25 years.

Foulston said if Lane is ever paroled in Texas before spending 62 1/2 years in prison, he will be immediately returned to Kansas.

"He isn't going to be on any street in any community if we have anything to say about it," she said. "He is a significantly dangerous offender that I consider to be a serial killer of the worst kind."

Bill Allison, a defense attorney and clinical professor of law at the University of Texas who helped represent Lane, said he thought Perry made the right decision.

Allison told the Austin American-Statesman that a death row warden who talked to Lane about the commutation reported that Lane didn't understand what had happened.

"This is a grown man, in his 40s, who likes coloring books," he said.

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