TENNESSEE – Tenn. Supreme Court overturns death sentence – Hubert Sexton

May 30, 2012 Source : http://www.timesnews.net

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The Tennessee Supreme Court on Tuesday overturned a death sentence for a man convicted of murdering a Scott County couple in their bed and ordered that a new jury decide whether to execute him.

The state’s highest court cited numerous problems with both the evidence and sentencing phase of the murder trial of Hubert Glenn Sexton, including prosecutors making inappropriate statements to jurors and the admission of prejudicial evidence.

A Scott County jury convicted Sexton of two counts of first-degree murder for the May 2000 murders of Stanley and Terry Sue Goodman. The Goodmans were shot to death as they slept in their Huntsville home days after Sexton was accused of sexually abusing one of Stanley Goodman’s children.

In spite of the problems during the trial, the Supreme Court refused to overturn the murder convictions.

“Aside from the unfairly prejudicial nature of the inadmissible evidence and the inappropriate argument by the prosecution, however, the proof of guilt for each of the two murders was simply overwhelming,” the opinion, written by Justice Gary Wade, said. The court noted that the evidence included Sexton telling at least three of his friends that he had murdered the Goodmans.

The court said problems started even before the trial began when some people were improperly excluded as jurors. The court said jurors never should have heard allegations about the sexual abuse because Sexton had not been charged. The opinion noted that prosecutors could have elected to charge Sexton separately in the matter.

And the court said that jurors may have been prejudiced by hearing that Sexton initially agreed to take a polygraph but then changed his mind and refused. Prosecutors were also said to make inappropriate comments to jurors during opening statements and closing arguments.

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