- Associated Press - Friday, June 3, 2016

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) - An appeals court is overturning the death sentence of a man convicted of killing three people in southeast Alabama two decades ago.

The Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals on Friday sided with Jerry Jerome Smith, who was convicted of killing Willie Flournoy, Theresa Helms and David Bennett at a home in Houston County in October 1996. Police at the time described it as a crack house.

Smith claimed a judge wrongly excluded the public from part of jury selection during his trial, and the judges agreed. They sent the case back to circuit court for resentencing.

The opinion says the hearing will be the fifth sentencing for Smith.

Prosecutors contend Smith was a drug dealer who shot the three to death over a debt.

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