Deadline set for appeal in death penalty case

GRAND RAPIDS (AP) -- Federal prosecutors in Grand Rapids have until Sept. 16 to decide whether to appeal a decision that overturned a rare death sentence.

An appeals court set the deadline Tuesday, about a week after one of its three-judge panels threw out the death penalty for Marvin Gabrion.

In 2002, Gabrion was convicted of drowning a woman in a national forest. The jury sentenced him to death, an option in federal court.

But the appeals court says the sentencing phase needs to start over. In a 2-1 decision, the court said defense lawyers should have been able to argue that Gabrion would not have faced a death sentence if the case had been prosecuted in state court.

The government's options include asking the full appeals court to look at the case.

Published: Thu, Aug 11, 2011