Judge Delays Retrial in Iowa Death Penalty Case

FILE - In this Nov. 16, 2005, file photo Angela Johnson is lead to a hearing at the Federal Courthouse in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Johnson was convicted in 2005 in the drug-related slayings of three adults and two children in 1993 near Mason City. A federal judge, citing errors by her attorney's, tossed out her death sentences cut upheld her convictions on Thursday, March 22, 2012. (AP Photo/The Gazette, Jim Slosiarek, File)

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By Aaron Hepker

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — A judge has delayed an upcoming death penalty retrial for an Iowa woman charged with five drug-related murders while prosecutors appeal a ruling limiting the scope of the case.

The retrial for Angela Johnson had been scheduled to begin June 3 in Sioux City. U.S. District Judge Mark Bennett suspended it Tuesday after federal prosecutors filed notice that they'll appeal Bennett's pretrial orders that limit the evidence they can present.

Bennett ruled that the hearing would be limited only to asking jurors whether Johnson should receive the death penalty. Bennett will instruct jurors that he'll otherwise sentence Johnson to life in prison without parole.

Prosecutors say the ruling bars them from arguing Johnson would present a danger if released, and from presenting some evidence about planning for the murders.

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