State supreme court takes man off death row

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) - The Kentucky Supreme Court has reversed the death sentence of a convicted murderer who had been tried a second time on capital kidnapping charges stemming from a 1991 multistate crime spree.
Justices concluded in a ruling released Thursday that a Bullitt County trial court had erred in the case of Michael Dale St. Clair by incorrectly instructing the jury before deliberations began on charges of capital kidnapping, attempted murder, receiving stolen property and arson in Hardin County.
St. Clair, 53, was twice sentenced to death - once in Hardin County and once in Bullitt County - for kidnapping and killing Frank Brady. Authorities say he stole Brady's truck while running away from a jail escape from Oklahoma in 1991. The truck was later burned.
"I didn't commit those crimes," St. Clair told The Associated Press in a recent phone call.
The Hardin County conviction was overturned after the Kentucky Supreme Court ruled in 2005 that a judge improperly allowed St. Clair's ex-wife to testify against him. St. Clair is also under two sentences of life without parole for murders committed in Oklahoma.
St. Clair sought to stop a retrial in Hardin County, saying it would violate his right to a speedy trial. The justices rejected that argument.
A co-defendant, Dennis Reese, reached a deal with prosecutors to testify against St. Clair. Reese, 49, is serving life without parole in prison in Oklahoma.

(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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