Judge overturns death sentence in slaying more than 30 years ago in Sacramento


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SACRAMENTO, California — A federal judge in Sacramento has overturned the death sentence of a transient convicted of fatally stabbing a man more than 30 years ago.

The Sacramento Bee reports (http://bit.ly/1qKXHev ) that U.S. District Judge Lawrence Karlton on Tuesday adopted the recommendation of a magistrate judge who said Larry Junior Webster had been denied a fair trial during the penalty phase because his attorney failed to mount a strong case in favor of a lesser sentence.

Prosecutors now have 90 days to decide whether they want to retry the penalty phase.

Webster, now 65, has been on death row since 1983, when he was found guilty of lying in wait and killing 36-year-old William Burke in Sacramento to steal Burke's car.

Webster's attorney, William Owen, said he took over the case to find that no preparations had been made for the penalty phase.

Information from: The Sacramento Bee, http://www.sacbee.com

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