FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - The Kentucky Supreme Court reversed four
murder convictions on Thursday, citing legal errors that might have
tainted the trials.
One of the convictions was against Ronald Crabtree, a Richmond
man who was sentenced to 45 years in prison after being convicted
in the killing of his girlfriend's 2-year-old daughter in 2007.
Investigators found the child had multiple burns, bruises and
abrasions all over her body.
Justices said in the 5-2 decision that Madison County Circuit
Judge William T. Jennings had erred by not allowing the jury that
convicted him of wanton murder and criminal abuse to consider the
crime of manslaughter during their deliberations.
"In this case, based on the evidence presented, a juror could
have a reasonable doubt that Crabtree was guilty of wanton murder
and yet believe beyond a reasonable doubt that he was guilty of
manslaughter in the second degree," the justices wrote.
Justice Will T. Scott and Bill Cunningham disagreed.
"I do not believe the evidence supports any instruction other
than intentional or wanton murder," Scott wrote in a dissenting
The high court also reversed the murder conviction of Frederick
Rennel Hannah in McCracken County, finding that Judge Jeffrey Hines
had erred by not allowing the defense attorney to inform jurors
that Hannah had "no duty to retreat" when he shot a man during a
fight in 2004.
He was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of
In a Jefferson County case, justices ruled that Judge Denise
Clayton had erred by giving a jury a transcript of a 911 call
during the murder trial of Cuban immigrant Juan Pelegrin-Vidal, who
was convicted of killing his former girlfriend in 2002. Justices
said the transcript included portions of the recorded call that
they deemed inaudible.
Pelegrin-Vidal also was sentenced to life in prison without the
possibility of parole.
Justices also reversed the Caldwell County murder conviction of
Desmond J. Snorton, finding that Judge Clarance A. Woodall III had
limited the defense lawyer's ability to impeach a witness for the
Snorton was sentenced to 30 years in prison for a 2006 shooting.
A jury had found him guilty of murder, wanton endangerment and
possession of a handgun by a convicted felon.
All of the cases were sent back to lower courts for further
(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)