By Associated Press - Tuesday, March 31, 2020

CASPER, Wyo. (AP) - Wyoming’s attorney general asked the U.S. Supreme Court to deny a death row inmate’s request for appeal, arguing he did not preserve his ability to appeal the case.

Dale Wayne Eaton, 75, asked the country’s highest court in February to take his case, arguing his trial attorney failed to properly investigate his competence to stand trial, The Casper Star-Tribune reported Monday.

Prosecutors indicated last year in state court they intend to have Eaton put to death following his conviction for the 1988 kidnapping, rape and murder of Lisa Marie Kimmell, who disappeared while driving from Colorado to Montana. The teenager’s body was found in the North Platte River.

Eaton was convicted in 1998 in a separate assault case. Wyoming authorities collected Eaton’s DNA and found it linked him to Kimmell’s body.

Jurors convicted Eaton in 2004 of premeditated murder, felony murder, aggravated kidnapping, aggravated robbery, and sexual assault. A federal appeals court threw out Eaton’s sentence in 2014 and he remains incarcerated while awaiting a new sentencing hearing.

The proceeding remains on hold while Eaton seeks a review by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Eaton’s lawyers argued no court has fully determined whether his trial lawyers harmed his case by failing to investigate his competence before the trial began.

The attorney general’s response Monday argued Eaton’s claim to ineffective assistance of counsel was not properly preserved outside the federal courts’ rulings on the trial’s death-penalty phase.

By failing to maintain Eaton had a separate ineffective assistance claim, he waived his right to the appeal, the state attorneys argued.

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