Court broadens scope of Iowa death penalty retrial

Associated Press

IOWA CITY (AP) — An appeals court says the death penalty retrial for an Iowa woman convicted of helping kill five people in 1993 will be broader than the trial judge wanted.

The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Monday that jurors must first decide whether Angela Johnson is eligible for the death penalty, and then whether that should be imposed on each count.

The ruling is a victory for prosecutors because it will allows them to present more evidence against Johnson, who remains convicted of five counts of aiding and abetting murder.

U.S. District Judge Mark Bennett has ordered her a new sentencing trial, finding flaws with her defense. But he had limited the scope to determine solely whether Johnson should receive life in prison or the death penalty for each count.

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