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overturned for death row inmate who killed gay man

overturned for death row inmate who killed gay man

A federal 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.

According to 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.

The police 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)

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