Court overturns man's second conviction for slaying

Kenneth Heard (Courtesy photo)

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — The Iowa Appeals Court has overturned the second murder conviction of a man who's spent more than 10 years in prison.

Juries have twice found Kenneth Heard guilty of murder for fatally shooting of 26-year-old Joshua Hutchinson in December 2007.

The Des Moines Register reports that the court ruled Wednesday that Heard's constitutional right to compel witnesses to testify was violated. The appellate court says the trial court failed to determine the "extent and validity" of one witness's assertion of his Fifth Amendment privilege against incriminating himself.

The witness testified for the prosecution at Heard's first trial but asserted his Fifth Amendment right at the time of his deposition before the second trial. Heard has accused that witness of fatally shooting Hutchinson.

Heard's first first-degree murder conviction in the case was overturned after he claimed his lawyers were ineffective.

It's unclear whether prosecutors will seek a third trial.