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SCOTUS denies Evansville death penalty case

January 1, 2008
The nation's highest court won't review the case of an Evansville death row inmate who'd questioned the requirement he wear a stun belt during his eight-month capital trial for murdering three people in 1996.

In a list of certiorari denials released today, the Supreme Court of the United States announced it wouldn't review John Stephenson v. Indiana, No. 07-8237. He'd filed a petition for review in December, and justices decided at a private conference April 11 not to take the case.

The denial comes almost a year after the Indiana Supreme Court issued a 43-page decision on Stephenson v. State, No. 87S00-0106-PD-285, which affirmed a post-conviction court's denial of relief for John Stephenson, who was sentenced to die for crimes committed more than a decade ago. He was sentenced to death for convictions of burglary, theft, and murder of John "Jay" Tyler, his wife, Kathy Tyler, and Brandy Southard.

Indiana's justices had affirmed the convictions and death sentence in 2001, but the ruling last year focused on how Stephenson was forced to wear a stun belt in the jury's presence. The court decided his trial and counsel were effective and his due process and fair trial rights weren't violated. The Indiana justices denied a rehearing in September.
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