A federal appeals court has ordered a hearing to determine the fairness of a murder trial in which the prosecutor was the judge's nephew and the judge's wife was the court reporter.
In addition, the prosecutor was dating the daughter of the defendant's lawyer, and the couple subsequently married, records show.
The defendant, Jimmie Lee Dyas, was convicted of murder for his role in a contract killing in Arkansas and was sentenced to life in prison without parole. Co-defendant Charles Bean, who actually did the killing, testified against Dyas and was convicted on a reduced charge of first-degree murder.
A three-judge panel of the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday ordered the U.S. District Court in Arkansas to determine whether Dyas had been victimized by judicial prejudice. The appeals court said "this remarkable chain of relationships" warrants a further inquiry.