published Friday, March 28th, 2014

Georgia high court tosses man's death sentence

ATLANTA — Georgia's highest court has tossed the conviction and death sentence of man who had been found guilty of killing a bank vice president in 1999.

In a unanimous decision published Friday, the court upheld a lower court's ruling that Artemus Rick Walker was incompetent due to mental illness. Walker had been convicted in the Macon County slaying of Lynwood Ray Gresham.

A lawyer for Walker in 2009 filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus, which allows prisoners to challenge their convictions on constitutional grounds.

Walker's lawyer argued that his trial lawyers had been ineffective because they didn't argue that he was mentally incompetent.

The high court agreed with the lower court that Walker presented ample evidence in the habeas proceeding to prove his lawyers failed him.

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