Court seems ready to overturn La. conviction

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Posted: Nov 8, 2011 3:26 PM
Source: Associated Press

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Topics: washington, supreme court, louisiana, murder, conviction, overturn, wbrz, louisiana, juan smith

WASHINGTON - The Supreme Court seems ready to overturn a Louisiana death row inmate's conviction because New Orleans prosecutors did not give defense lawyers statements that cast doubt on the murderer's identity.

Justices repeatedly pounded a lawyer from the New Orleans district attorney's office with questions Tuesday about why they didn't turn the witness statements over to Juan Smith's lawyers. Two justices, Elena Kagan and Antonin Scalia, finally told the prosecutor's representative that their office should just admit their error.

Smith was convicted of killing five people at a 1995 party. Those convictions were later used to get him a death sentence in a separate case.

But the only eyewitness to the 1995 murders gave inconsistent statements about whether he could identify the killers. Those statements were not shared with Smith's lawyers.

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