PHOENIX — A federal appeals court has denied an appeal for an Arizona death row inmate convicted of killing his wife, overturning a lower court’s ruling that the man received ineffective assistance of counsel.
A ruling Thursday by a three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals says Michael Apelt’s defense was deficient but that Arizona courts’ findings that the deficiency didn’t harm Apelt’s defense weren’t unreasonable.
Apelt and his brother, Rudi, were convicted of killing Michael’s U.S.-born wife in 1988 in Pinal County in hopes of cashing in on a $400,000 insurance policy. Rudi is serving a life term.
The brothers are German nationals who had recently arrived in the United States when the killing occurred.