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Ohio bill would spare severely mentally ill from execution

COLUMBUS (AP) — A person judged to suffer from severe mental illness at the time of a killing that could result in a death sentence would be spared from capital punishment under a bill before Ohio lawmakers.

The proposed legislation would allow a hearing before trial on an offender’s mental illness and permit a judge to rule out the death penalty if severe mental illness is proven.

Current death row inmates could also challenge their sentences on the basis of mental illness at the time of their crimes.

The Senate Criminal Justice Committee planned to hear testimony from supporters of the measure Wednesday. Sponsors are Sen. Bill Seitz, a Cincinnati Republican, and Sen. Sandra Williams, a Cleveland Democrat.

Illnesses covered by the bill include schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and major depressive disorder.