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Court hears conflicting-theory case

April 19, 2005 at 10:38 AM

WASHINGTON, April 19 (UPI) -- The U.S. Supreme Court heard argument Tuesday in an Ohio case on whether prosecutors can convict defendants in the same case using conflicting theories.

John Davis Stumpf and Clyde Daniel Wesley were indicted by a Guernsey County, Ohio, grand jury for the murder of a woman and the wounding of her husband in their home during a robbery.

Two pistols were used.

Stumpf was arrested quickly and decided to plead guilty to aggravated murder. At an evidentiary hearing to establish the basis for the guilty plea, prosecutors said Stumpf shot the woman between the eyes, and likely fired all the rounds found in the house. Stumpf's attorneys said Wesley killed the woman.

A three-judge panel accepted the prosecutor's version and sentenced Stumpf to death.

Wesley was later tried for the woman's murder, and a cellmate testified Wesley claimed to have killed the woman. Wesley also was convicted.

Eventually, an appeals court allowed Stumpf to withdraw his guilty plea, and Ohio asked the Supreme Court for review.

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