Federal judge rejects appeal over deputy's death

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A federal judge has turned down an appeal from a man on Indiana's death row for the 2001 shooting death of a sheriff's deputy.

Attorneys for Tommy Pruitt have argued that his death sentence should be overturned because he is mentally disabled.

Pruitt was convicted of murder for fatally shooting Morgan County Deputy Dan Starnes during an exchange of gunfire after a traffic stop along a rural road in central Indiana in which Pruitt was also wounded.

Federal Judge Robert Miller in South Bend ruled this week that Pruitt's IQ is close to the cutoff for mental retardation but that state courts didn't act unreasonably in finding him able to stand trial.

The Indiana Supreme Court in 2009 rejected a similar appeal from Pruitt.

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