WASHINGTON — The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday upheld an appeals court ruling that granted a new trial to an Oklahoma death row inmate.
Without comment, the justices rejected Oklahoma’s petition to review the decision by the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that Sterling B. Williams was unfairly convicted of first-degree murder.
The appeals court said jurors in Williams’ trial should have been allowed to consider second-degree murder, which doesn’t carry the death penalty as potential punishment.
Williams was convicted of stabbing LeAnna Hand to death at her Tulsa home in 1997 and given the death penalty; he also was given 99 years for trying to kill her roommate.
Williams, a salesman for a meat company, went to Hand’s home on the pretense of giving her some free meat. He stabbed her in the chest with a butcher knife. The knife matched those in a set at his home. The day of the killing, Williams called his employer and said he had just killed a girl and had to go to Chicago to hide out.
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