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A Nevada man convicted of murder in 1988 is now facing a retrial after a judge ruled that the court improperly decided on the death penalty. John Valerio remains guilty under the law for stabbing a Las Vegas prostitute 45 times. Now, after a lengthy appeals process, Valerio will get a second chance at the penalty phase, where he hopes to escape the death penalty. Court is expected to begin at approximately 9:00 am PT/12:00 pm ET.
Karen Blackwell‘s body was found in the trunk of a car, wrapped in sheets from Valerio’s apartment. Her blood was found all over his apartment, and he had her keys and address book in his jacket pocket. But while his guilt is not in doubt, the question was whether his actions met the definition of “depravity of mind” required for the death penalty under Nevada law at the time.
In 2002, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled 7-4 that the depravity of mind standard was too vague for the jury to properly know what they were supposed to determine. Indeed, the Nevada government scrapped that standard in 1995.
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