Ky. death row inmate will stand trial again

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Ky. death row inmate will stand trial again

Post  Jennie on Fri Jun 20, 2008 11:43 am

The Kentucky Supreme Court has ruled that a death row inmate can be tried for a 2nd time on capital kidnapping charges stemming from a 1991 multistate crime spree.

In a unanimous opinion issued Thursday in Frankfort, the court ruled that Michael D. St. Clair, 51, would not be harmed by facing a 2nd trial on charges of capital kidnapping, attempted murder, receiving stolen property and arson in Hardin County.

The unsigned opinion said St. Clair could appeal any perceived error once the trial was over, but that the trial should be allowed to go forward.

St. Clair was twice sentenced to death - once in Hardin County and once in Bullitt County - for kidnapping and killing Frank Brady. He stole Brady's truck while running away from a jail escape from Oklahoma in 1991. The truck was later burned.

The Hardin County conviction was overturned after the Kentucky Supreme Court ruled in 2005 that a judge improperly allowed St. Clair's ex-wife to testify against him. St. Clair is also under 2 sentences of life without parole for murders committed in Oklahoma.

St. Clair sought to stop a retrial in Hardin County, saying it would violate his right to a speedy trial. The justices rejected that argument.

"Here, other than generally pointing to the ordeal of being a defendant in a capital trial, Petitioner offers nothing to show that he will suffer any injury that cannot be corrected on appeal if he is convicted erroneously," the court wrote.

In an unrelated death penalty case, inmate John Mills won the right to a hearing to determine if the state should pay for expert assistance while he appeals his conviction. The justices also ordered the Knox Circuit Court to hold a hearing about whether 3 out-of-state witnesses are necessary for a hearing in his case.

Mills, 38, was sentenced to death October 18, 1996, for the stabbing death of Arthur Phipps at his residence in Smokey Creek. A jury found that on Aug. 30, 1995, Mills stabbed Phipps 29 times with a pocket knife and stole a small amount of money.

Police arrested Mills that day at a residence he rented from Mr. Phipps, on the same property where the crime occurred.

Kentucky has executed 2 people since the reinstatement of the death penalty in 1976. Harold McQueen was electrocuted in 1997 for killing a convenience store clerk in 1991. Eddie Lee Harper waived his appeals in 1999 and was put to death by lethal injection for killing family members.

(source: Fort Mill Times)

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