State v. Locklear, 363 N.C. 438 (Aug. 28, 2009)

The trial court erred by denying the defendant’s request to instruct the jury that a verdict finding the defendant mentally retarded would result in a sentence of life imprisonment without parole. The trial judge had given N.C.P.J.I.—Crim. 150.05, which states, in part, that “no defendant who is mentally retarded shall be sentenced to death,” and the attorneys argued that if the defendant was found mentally retarded he would receive life in prison. Stating that on remand, the trial court should instruct the jury that “[i]f the jury determines the defendant to be mentally retarded, the court shall declare the case noncapital and the defendant shall be sentenced to life imprisonment.”