PHOENIX (AP) - A federal appeals court has upheld the murder conviction and vacated the death sentence of an Arizona man for a 1995 killing. The 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in San Francisco ruled Friday that 59-year-old Michael Joe Murdaugh should get a new sentencing hearing. Murdaugh was convicted in January 2000 and sentenced to death in November 2001. The appeals court noted that he was sentenced by a judge instead of a jury. A U.S. Supreme Court ruling in 2002 held that juries must decide whether a defendant is eligible for the death penalty. Murdaugh was accused of severely beating a man and robbing him of $180 and a cellphone.
The victim's body was taken to northern Arizona, where it was mutilated and buried.
Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
KTTV FOX 111999 S. Bundy Dr.Los Angeles CA 90025Main: (310) 584-2000News Tips? (310) 584-2025