Brian Crabtree, who pleaded guilty last month in Fayette Circuit Court in the death of a 2-year-old girl, now wants to withdraw that plea because he thinks he was misled.
Crabtree, 21, has changed his mind because of a Herald-Leader article that was published just after he entered the plea, said public defender Tom Griffiths, who represents Crabtree.
In the newspaper article, Commonwealth's Attorney Ray Larson indicated that Crabtree's low IQ was a factor in the case.
"This guy had a series of IQ tests as he was growing up that put his IQ at 70 or less," Larson said in the article published Sept. 20.
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IQ is an issue in death penalty cases because the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2002 that executing the mentally handicapped was unconstitutional. Many states, including Kentucky, have said an IQ of less than 70 qualifies as mentally handicapped.
From the beginning, until a plea deal was reached, Larson's office had consistently sought the death penalty in Crabtree's case, Griffiths said.
Also, the commonwealth's attorney's office had never conceded, in court hearings or conversations among attorneys outside of court, the defense's contention that Crabtree has a low intelligence quotient, Griffiths said.
But after the article was published, Crabtree "thought ... that he'd never been looking at the death penalty," Griffiths said.
In the plea deal with prosecutors, Crabtree agreed to plead guilty to the murder, rape, sodomy and sexual abuse of Katelynn Stinnett in 2008. In return, prosecutors agreed to recommend to the court sentences of life without parole on the murder charge, 20 years each on the charges of rape and sodomy, and five years each on two counts of sexual abuse.
On Thursday, Larson said he had no comment about the Crabtree case because it was ongoing.
A hearing on Crabtree's request to withdraw his plea is scheduled Friday morning.
"He just feels like he got scammed somehow," Griffiths said. "He thought he'd been deceived by counsel and the court system."
Crabtree doesn't think he was facing the death penalty because the newspaper article indicated he wasn't, Griffiths said. He said someone apparently read the Herald-Leader article to Crabtree because Crabtree cannot read.
Crabtree was caring for Katelynn and her brother at their home off Versailles Road in Lexington on Nov. 25, 2008, while their father, Daniel Stinnett was at work, according to authorities. Stinnett was estranged from the children's mother, Angela Johns, at the time.
A Lexington police sergeant testified at a hearing that Crabtree, after giving Katelynn a bath, dropped the child from a height about level with his shoulders, and her head struck the floor. Crabtree then raped the girl, the sergeant testified.