- Associated Press - Thursday, February 4, 2016

TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) - A federal appeals court has ordered that an Arizona death-row inmate convicted of the 1980 killing and rape of a Tucson hitchhiker be resentenced to life in prison.

A 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel Thursday overturned state court findings and ruled that Robert Douglas Smith was ineligible for capital punishment.

The panel’s two-judge majority said that’s because Smith’s defense showed he was intellectually disabled both before he turned 18 and when 29-year-old Sandra Owen was killed in March 180.

A dissenting 9th Circuit judge disputed the majority’s conclusion that Smith was intellectually disabled when Owen was killed and said the federal court should have deferred to the Arizona court findings.


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