US Supreme Court to hear Ohio’s challenge to a death row inmate’s request

A death row inmate who wants neurological testing is taking his case to the nation’s highest court.
Published: Apr. 25, 2022 at 11:45 AM CDT
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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - An Ohio death row inmate, who wants neurological testing done, takes his case to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Tuesday, justices will hear arguments from lawyers representing Raymond Twyford and the State of Ohio. Twyford was convicted of murder in 1993, and his lawyers argue that there’s potential evidence left to be discovered.

Tywford was convicted of murdering a man who was accused of sexually assaulting two children whose mother Twyford lived with. Michael Benza, a Tywford attorney, said his client needs neurological testing.

Benza said, “When Ray was a teenager, he tried to kill himself by shooting himself in the head. And he has these 20 to 30 bullet fragments inside his brain.”

Benza wants to know whether those bullet fragments impact Tywford’s ability to process information or his competency. The testing can’t be done at the prison and would require the state transporting Tywford to a medical facility about an hour away. Lower courts gave the green light, but the State of Ohio is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn those decisions.

The state didn’t schedule an interview before our deadline, but we spoke with George Washington University law professor Paul Schiff Berman who analyzed the state’s argument, which is presented with Chillicothe Correctional Institute Warden Tim Shoop as the petitioner.

Schiff Berman said, “The warden is saying that he doesn’t have to do this because there’s no indication that the information that would be gained from the neurological exam will actually be admissible.”

Schiff Berman also notes that with the Supreme Court’s more conservative makeup, there’s a greater chance the court could overturn the lower court decisions.

Oral arguments are scheduled for Tuesday morning. Ohio Solicitor General Benjamin Flowers is listed as the counsel of record for the state.

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