Jul 14, 2012 3:00 PM
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) - A divided federal appeals court has granted a Kentucky death row inmate a new sentencing hearing in the rape and murder of a 16-year-old western Kentucky girl.
The U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals on Thursday found that a state judge should have instructed jurors not to draw any inference from 38-year-old Robert Keith Woodall's decision not to testify on his own behalf.
Judge Boyce F. Martin Jr. wrote that the trial court improperly denied the requested jury instruction. Judge Deborah Cook wrote that a "mountain of evidence" pointed to Woodall's guilt in the 1997 death of 16-year-old Sarah Hansen.
The decision upheld a ruling by U.S. District Judge Thomas B. Russell in 2009.
Woodall pleaded guilty to kidnapping Hansen from a convenience store in Greenville in western Kentucky.
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