SIOUX FALLS - A judge has ruled that a 42-year-old man who admitting killing a 75-year-old Sioux Falls woman in her home in 2011 can face the death penalty.

James McVay pleaded guilty but mentally ill to first-degree murder in the July 2011 killing of 75-year-old Maybelle Schein in her Sioux Falls home.

Defense lawyers had argued that South Dakota law does not allow for the execution of a mentally ill inmate.

KELO television reported (http://bit.ly/UR6Ym4) that Judge Peter Lieberman sided with prosecutors Wednesday but asked the defense to file an intermediate appeal with the South Dakota Supreme Court.

Authorities say McVay cut Schein's throat and stole her car in an unsuccessful scheme to drive to Washington, D.C., and assassinate President Barack Obama. He was arrested the same day in Wisconsin.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.