Attorney General Drew Edmondson on Wednesday criticized an appellate court's decision that overturned a Sequoyah County man's murder convictions and directed a verdict of not guilty by reason of insanity.
Edmondson said the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals' decision in Daniel Hawke Fears' case "sows seeds of confusion and lays a minefield for future trials and practitioners." Earlier this month, the court threw out Fears' convictions for killing two women and wounding others in a shooting spree on Oct. 26, 2002. Fears was convicted of first-degree murder in the deaths of Patsy Sue Wells, 61, of Sallisaw, and Reba Spangler, 68, of Fort Smith, Ark. He received life sentences without the possibility of parole. His other convictions were for wounding people in the shooting spree. Edmondson filed a petition with the Court of Criminal Appeals Wednesday, asking it to reconsider its earlier ruling in the case. Edmondson said the appellate court erred by substituting its judgment for the trial jury and by failing to follow established precedent regarding jury instruction. He said the Court of Criminal Appeals overstepped its role as an appellate court and acted as a trial court.
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