LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — A death row prisoner convicted of killing a man during a robbery that netted him $20 and a gun received adequate assistance from his initial set of lawyers and has no right to a new sentencing hearing, the Arkansas Supreme Court said Thursday.
Brandon Lacy's new lawyers had said that since their client suffers from alcohol-fueled amnesia and other substance abuse issues, his trial attorneys should have done more to test his mental health and present the results to jurors with the hope of a lighter sentence. The state's highest court said in a 6-1 decision it wouldn't second-guess decisions made by the trial lawyers as they set their strategy and noted that the attorneys had made "strenuous efforts" to secure a life sentence for their client.
"Far from ignoring the issue of neuropsychological testing, counsel explored it and was told by an independent expert that it was not needed," Justice Robin Wynne wrote for the court.
Randy Walker died in 2007. Prosecutors said Lacy hit Walker twice in the head with a fireplace poker, stabbed him, slit his throat and set his trailer on fire. A co-defendant is serving life without parole.
Justice Josephine Linker Hart, in a dissent, said Lacy's legal team failed to meet American Bar Association guidelines.
"Lacy was a long-time daily blackout drinker who began consuming alcohol regularly at the age of ten," Hart wrote. She said Lacy moved on to other substances by age 15 and that his lawyer adopted an attitude of "No one is going to give (Lacy) the death penalty."
Arkansas last year executed four men in eight days after initially planning to put eight men to death in 11 days. It does not have a complete set of execution drugs on hand.