- Associated Press - Thursday, July 17, 2014

TEXARKANA, Ark. (AP) - A former death row inmate was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole Wednesday.

The jury of nine women and three men settled on the sentence for Frank Williams Jr., 47, the Texarkana Gazette reported (https://bit.ly/UdIMQP ). Williams was convicted more than 20 years ago for the 1992 fatal shooting of farmer Clyde Spence in Lafayette County. The state’s highest court overturned Williams’ original death sentence in 2011, citing problems with the original sentencing, and sent the case back to the trial court for another look at the punishment.

“We respect the jury’s decision and appreciate their service,” prosecuting attorney Carlton Jones said.

The jury in Miller County was only charged with deciding Williams’ punishment. The case was moved there from Lafayette County because of pretrial publicity.

Prosecutors sought another death sentence for Williams, saying the Spence family was still suffering from the killing.

But attorneys for Williams argued earlier this week that their client was mentally disabled. State and federal laws prohibit the death penalty for offenders who are mentally disabled.

Prosecutors and defense attorneys differed slightly in their accounts of what happened the night Spence died in Bradley.

Prosecutors said Williams killed Spence after Spence fired him for damaging a tractor. Defense attorneys said Williams had gone to Spence’s house to talk to him, then made a bad decision when he saw handgun on the counter inside.

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Information from: Texarkana Gazette, https://www.texarkanagazette.com

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