Alabama appeals court reverses capital murder cases from Mobile, Houston, Morgan counties

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MONTGOMERY, Alabama — An Alabama appeals court on Friday reversed capital murder convictions and death sentences in cases from Mobile, Houston and Morgan counties.

The Court of Criminal Appeals overturned the conviction of Derrick Shawn Penn in Mobile. He was found guilty in the shooting deaths of his estranged wife, Janet Penn, and her boyfriend, Demetrius Powe, in 2009. The appeals court said the trial judge did not give the jury proper instructions about how it should consider a protection from abuse petition that Penn had filed before she was killed.

The appeals court also reversed the conviction of Tawuan Townes in the killing of Christopher Woods during a burglary in Dothan in 2008. The court said the trial judge gave improper instructions to the jury.

In a third case, the appeals court reversed the conviction of Marqueze Taron Smth in the kidnapping, robbery and killing of Jeremy Black in Morgan County in 2003. The appeals court said polygraph evidence was improperly introduced in Smith's trial.

The defendants can be tried again.

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