A federal appeals court has reversed the first-degree murder conviction of an Oklahoma death row inmate convicted in the stabbing death of a 22-year-old woman 16 years ago.
The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ordered a new trial Monday for 45-year-old Sterling B. Williams. A three-judge panel of the Denver-based court ruled that jurors at his 1999 trial in Tulsa County should have been instructed to consider convicting Williams of the lesser crime of second-degree murder, which is not punishable by death.
Williams, a door-to-door meat salesman, was found guilty in the murder of 22-year-old LeAnna Beth Hand, who died on May 14, 1997, after being stabbed with a butcher knife.
Williams was paroled from an Arkansas prison in 1996 after serving time for rape, kidnapping and other convictions.