A federal appeals court Friday granted a new hearing to condemned triple murderer Horace Kelly, casting further doubt on his July 7 execution date.
The U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals said a majority of its 21 active judges had voted to refer Kelly's case to an 11-judge panel for a rehearing, at a date not yet scheduled.
The panel is to decide whether deadline provisions in a new federal law bar Kelly from appealing his convictions and two death sentences in federal court.
A separate issue, still awaiting review by a federal judge in Los Angeles, is a challenge by Kelly's lawyers to the constitutionality of a trial in Marin County last month in which a jury found that he was sane enough to be executed. It was the first such trial in California since 1950.
Kelly, 38, was sentenced to death for the 1984 slayings of two women and an 11-year-old boy in the Inland Empire.
Kelly's July 7 execution was stayed this month by Chief U.S. District Judge Terry J. Hatter Jr. so that defense claims of constitutional violations in the Marin trial and the murder trials in San Bernardino and Riverside counties could be reviewed.