Cairo Bank Murder Trial Delayed Further

Oct 25, 2016

James Watts
Credit ISP

Attorneys for a southern Illinois man accused of fatally stabbing two Cairo bank workers say he isn’t eligible for the death penalty because he’s intellectually disabled.  

Judge Phil Gilbert has granted a motion made by James Watts’ defense attorneys for a three-month continuance for an evidentiary hearing on the matter because Watts’ mental status has yet to be determined.  

Watts’ hearing is now scheduled for January 2017, with a trial delayed until June.  A 2002 US Supreme Court ruling says executions of people with intellectual disabilities are considered "cruel and unusual punishments."

Watts has pleaded not guilty to charges of attempted armed bank robbery resulting in death and one count of being a felon in possession of a firearm in connection with the 2014 holdup in Cairo.  

The 2014 botched robbery of the First National Bank in Cairo resulted in the death of bank manager Anita Grace of Olive Branch, Ill., and employee Nita Jo Smith, who lived in Wickliffe, Ky.