appellate court on Tuesday threw out the conviction of a
death row inmate in Cincinnati, ruling that his
confession in the murder of a man he met at a gay bar
in 1985 should not have been allowed as evidence. A
three-judge panel of the sixth U.S. circuit court of appeals
sent the case of Robert VanHook back to U.S. district
court with instructions that VanHook be released if
not retried by the state within 180 days of final
action by the district court.
court records, VanHook, 25 at the time in February 1985,
strangled and repeatedly stabbed David Self, also 25, in
Self's apartment after the two met in the bar. He then
went to Fort Lauderdale, Fla., where he was arrested.
VanHook claimed temporary insanity, triggered when
Self made sexual advances.
questioned VanHook after he had requested legal counsel,
violating his right to have an attorney present, the appeals
court said. The judges also found that they couldn't
say with assurance that the three-judge Hamilton
County common pleas panel that convicted VanHook
wasn't "substantially swayed" by the unconstitutionally
obtained self-incriminating statements. The attorney
general's office could ask the full sixth circuit
court to review the ruling or could appeal to the U.S.
Supreme Court. (AP)