LITTLE ROCK — Arkansas' highest court has ordered a new trial for a death-row inmate who confessed to the murder and mutilation of a woman at a transient camp in 2001.
Justices on Thursday reversed Rickey Dale Newman's 2002 capital-murder conviction in the slaying of 46-year-old Marie Cholette near Van Buren in Crawford County. Newman's attorney argued that Newman was mentally unfit to understand court proceedings or help with his defense, and the court agreed.
Newman had asked for the death penalty but when his execution date was nearing in 2005, he authorized his lawyer to apply for a stay and pursue appeals.
The state had argued there was sufficient evidence that Newman was competent to stand trial.