A hearing to determine whether or not convicted murderer Justin Thurber is intellectually disabled has been postponed again after defense attorneys filed a motion requesting a continuation.
The motion, filed Oct. 14, asks for a continuance due to the loss of several key members on the defense team, according to Jeffrey Dazey, Thurber’s court-appointed attorney. Dazey also requested the hearing, originally scheduled for May 14-15, 2020, be moved back because the defense will not be able to meet deadlines with the loss of team members.
A scheduling hearing is at 1:30 p.m. on Feb. 25, 2020, at Cowley County District Court in Winfield, according to court records. A new date for the hearing has not been set yet.
Thurber sent a letter to the district court office stating his opposition to further delays. The letter was dated Oct. 29, 2019, and received by the court on Nov. 1, 2019.
In the letter, Thurber said he is opposed to further delays because doing so violated his rights under the Kansas and U.S. constitutions. Thurber also claimed that prosecutors withheld evidence and maintains his innocence.
Thurber was found guilty in 2009 by a Cowley County jury and sentenced to death for the 2007 murder of Arkansas City resident Jodi Sanderholm. The Kansas Supreme Court heard an appeal in the case in October 2017. Thurber’s attorney argued that his client’s sentence should be reduced from death to life in prison because Thurber is intellectually disabled and there was prosecutorial misconduct during the trial. At the hearing, the attorney claimed Thurber’s IQ is in the 70s or 80s.
The Supreme Court upheld the murder conviction in June 2018, but remanded the death penalty question to the local district court. A hearing on Thurber’s intellectual disability status has been scheduled and continued several times since then.