Appeals Court Overturns Death Penalty PDF Print E-mail

CINCINNATI, Aug. 11 (UPI) -- A man sentenced to death in a 1984 killing had his conviction overturned after a federal appeals court in Ohio found his due process rights had been violated.

The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati ruled John David Stumpf's rights were violated when prosecutors led a lower court to believe he was the main offender in the murder of a woman in her New Concord home, The Columbus Dispatch reported.

Stumpf must be released unless the state grants him a new hearing within 90 days, the court said in its 2-1 ruling.

The court found prosecutors had evidence and believed Clyde Daniel Wesley, a friend of Stumpf's and the co-defendant, was the trigger man in the death of Mary Jane Stout.

The court, which heard arguments four years ago, had overturned Stumpf's conviction and death sentence. The U.S. Supreme Court reinstated the conviction and sent the case back to the appeals court to determine whether he should receive the death penalty.

Stumpf and Wesley had been arrested in the killing of Stout and shooting of her husband, Norman. The two men had gone to the couple's home and asked to use the phone so they could rob them.

Stumpf, who pleaded guilty to first-degree murder, admitted shooting Norman Stout in the head but said Wesley killed Mary Jane Stout.

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