The man who was previously found guilty and sentenced to death for the 2003 murder of two undercover police officers in Staten Island has a new defense strategy to avoid the death penalty during his "penalty phase" retrial next year. The lawyer for Ronnell Wilson called him "mentally incompetent" during a hearing in Brooklyn federal court, and argued that he may not be eligible for the death penalty as a result.

Defense lawyer David Stern said that he planned to have Wilson examined by a shrink, and also gather testimony from friends and relatives who knew him growing up: "There was no investigating [of his mental capacity] done during the first trial," said Stern, who didn't represent Wilson during that first trial. A 2002 Supreme Court case barred the execution of the mentally retarded. Even though Wilson was sentenced to death in 2007 for killing the officers in a gun buy-and-bust operation, it was tossed on appeal last year.

Relatives of the two officers Wilson was convicted of killing, Detectives Rodney Andrews and James Nemorin, were upset with the new strategy. Detectives Endowment Association President Michael Palladino called it a "charade" and "an insult to the individuals who God did not bless with an intellect."