- Associated Press - Friday, October 30, 2015

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - The Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals on Friday overturned an Elk City man’s murder conviction in the shooting death of his mother, saying the man had been denied a fair trial.

The appellate court ordered a new trial for 28-year-old Aaron Stigleman in a 3-2 ruling.

Stigleman was convicted in February 2013 in the killing of Karen Stigleman, 56, and a jury sentenced him to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Stigleman’s girlfriend testified at his trial that he “was paranoid and hallucinating as he typically did when he used methamphetamine” the night before his mother’s death, according to the decision.

The appeals court said Stigleman was denied the right to a fair trial because the trial court and the Oklahoma Indigent Defense System, which provided his defense attorneys, denied him the funds to hire a forensic psychologist to testify on his methamphetamine use in support of an insanity defense.

This “denied him the ability to present a complete defense,” the court said.

Furthermore, Stigleman’s defense attorneys were ineffective because they did not inform the trial court that funding for the psychologist had been denied until five days before his trial was scheduled to start.

“It was incumbent upon defense counsel to make the threshold showing that insanity was a likely defense and to make a timely request for an expert to assist in the presentation of this defense,” it said.

In a dissenting opinion, Judge Gary Lumpkin wrote that Stigleman’s murder conviction and life prison sentence should be affirmed because Stigleman had not shown that he was harmed by the denial.

“Appellant’s jury was fully apprised as to his methamphetamine use,” Lumpkin wrote. “…There is not a reasonable probability that the outcome of the trial would have been different.”

Stigleman’s appellate counsel, Kristi Christopher, did not return a call seeking comment Friday morning. Aaron Cooper, spokesman for the Oklahoma Attorney General’s Office which defended Stigleman’s conviction, said the office had no comment.

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