MLive/The Muskegon Chronicle reaches out to Randall Levine for expertise in assessing intellectual disability relating to criminal matters

The case of against Paul Ferguson of Muskegon County, who was sentenced to 30 years in prison on a first-degree child abuse charge stemming from allegedly torture and starvation death of his brother, 15-year-old Timothy Ferguson, has legal and medical experts questioning potential diagnoses of intellectual disability.

In this particular case, Paul Ferguson and his mother, Shanda Vander Ark, tortured and staved Timothy until his eventual death in July 2022. They fed Timothy, who had autism, bread soaked in hot sauce and forced him to take ice baths – sometimes for hours at a time.

MLive/Muskegon Chronicle reached out to Managing Partner Randall Levine, to get a better understanding of how frequently similar assessments happen in the courtroom.

“It’s not typical but it does occur and there are a lot of mentally ill people in our population,” Levine said in his interview. Levine has represented clients in similar cases during his 40-plus years as an attorney but is not affiliated with the Ferguson/Vander Ark case.

To be assessed with an intellectual disability, a person must lack two or more adaptive skills among a list of 10 categories including self-care, home living, social skills and functional academics.

“An intellectual disability itself, even if a doctor were to say you were coerced, is probably enough to excuse the conduct,” Levine told MLive/The Muskegon Chronicle.

Read the entire story, here.

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