Death sentence upheld in Indiana deputy's death

By: The Associated Press
By: The Associated Press

A man convicted of fatally shooting a central Indiana sheriff's deputy in 2001 has lost an attempt to overturn his death sentence.

The Indiana Supreme Court issued a 4-1 decision Tuesday upholding the death sentence against Tommy Pruitt in the murder of Morgan County Warrant Officer Dan Starnes. The court rejected arguments that Pruitt is mentally retarded, which would make his execution unconstitutional.

Justice Robert Rucker dissented, saying he is convinced that Pruitt is mentally retarded.

Pruitt was convicted of wounding Starnes during a June 2001 shootout. Starnes died a month later.

The court held that the judge who presided over Pruitt's trial properly weighed evidence of Pruitt's mental state. Justices also said Pruitt had presented no new evidence to undermine the judge's finding that he was not mentally retarded.

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