STATE : Death Penalty in Murder Reversed


A divided state Supreme Court today reversed the death sentence of a Riverside man for a 1981 murder, saying the prosecutor improperly told jurors that the life-or-death decision was made by the law and the voters, not their own consciences.

The 4-3 ruling allows a new penalty trial for Lee Farmer Jr. to decide whether he should be sentenced to death or life without parole. It is the 18th reversal of a death sentence, and only the second non-unanimous reversal, out of 65 capital cases the court has considered since conservative justices gained a majority in 1987.