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Federal appeals court says condemned Ohio killer can make mental disability claim

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CINCINNATI — A federal appeals court says a condemned Ohio killer who beat a 65-year-old man to death almost three decades ago can continue arguing he shouldn't be executed because he is mentally disabled.

PHOTO: This undated photo provided by the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation shows a mug shot of Andre Williams.  A federal appeals court said Tuesday, July 7, 2015,  Williams, a condemned Ohio killer who beat a 65-year-old man to death almost three decades ago can continue arguing he shouldn't be executed because he is mentally disabled. (Ohio Department of Rehabilitation via AP)
This undated photo provided by the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation shows a mug shot of Andre Williams. A federal appeals court said Tuesday, July 7, 2015, Williams, a condemned Ohio killer who beat a 65-year-old man to death almost three decades ago can continue arguing he shouldn't be executed because he is mentally disabled. (Ohio Department of Rehabilitation via AP)

The ruling by the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati came in the case of Andre Williams, sentenced to death for the 1988 beating death of George Melnick of Warren in an attack that severely injured Melnick's wife, Katherine Melnick.

The appeals court said Tuesday that state courts failed to properly apply federal law governing claims of mental disability in capital punishment cases.

The federal court said a lower court ruled improperly when it refused to recognize evidence of the 48-year-old Williams' disabilities dating to when he was a teenager.

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