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Court overturns Lexington man's conviction for wife's beating death

LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - A Fayette County jury convicted Donald Southworth of murder back in 2012 and he was sentenced to life in prison. This was after police discovered his wife, Umi, badly beaten behind their home. In a 52-page summary, though, Kentucky's Supreme Court overturned that conviction.

In June 2010, police found Umi Southworth badly beaten behind her Meadowthorpe Avenue home. For hours, police thought she was already dead. But the coroner discovered she was still barely alive. She died the next day in the hospital.

Two years later, Fayette County jurors convicted Donald Southworth and sentenced him to life in prison. He's been serving that sentence at Northpoint Training Center. Today, though, the Kentucky Supreme Court has overturned that conviction. Their decision revolves around sexual evidence found at the scene, testimony involving Donald Southworth’s sexual history, and the lower court allowing... “the Commonwealth to admit obviously prejudicial proof that Southworth had previously committed an unusual sexual act without first proving that such an act had occurred in this case."

Justice Mary Noble said that testimony… "...was not relevant to the case, or if it was, the Commonwealth failed to show that it was,"

And to connect that evidence found at the scene and Donald Southworth’s sexual history "...is rampant speculation,"

This case also had an impact on how Lexington Police respond to crime scenes. Officers didn't call for emergency care until three hours and 17 minutes after they found Southworth. Now, police have to call for emergency care as soon as they get to a scene.

Friends of Umi Southworth watched the trail closely.

"I want to see them get it right and I want to know too. I want all doubt out of my mind as well as knowing that the people who really matter like Almira and them can get rid of all the doubt in their minds too and be able to move on," said friend David McLean, "there's a lot of people hanging in limbo and they need to be able to move on with their lives."


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