Del. Supreme Court Overturns Death Sentence for Inmate - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Del. Supreme Court Overturns Death Sentence for Inmate

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DOVER, Del. (AP) - The state Supreme Court on Monday overturned the conviction and death sentence of a man who has spent more than two decades on Delaware's death row.

The justices ruled unanimously that Jermaine Wright, 41, is entitled to a new trial because prosecutors repeatedly withheld potentially exculpatory evidence in his 1992 murder trial.

Wright was convicted of killing Phillip Seifert, 65, a clerk at a liquor store and bar outside Wilmington.

Monday's ruling came after the Supreme Court last year reversed a lower court ruling overturning Wright's conviction and death sentence. Wright's attorneys then raised issues they said were not settled when the Supreme Court reinstated Wright's conviction and death sentence.

Before his conviction was thrown out in 2012, Wright had spent more time on death row than any other Delaware inmate currently facing execution.

"Wright is not entitled to a perfect trial, but he is entitled to a fair one where material exculpatory and impeachment evidence is disclosed and not suppressed," Justice Henry duPont Ridgely wrote in Monday's ruling.

Herb Mondros, an attorney for Wright, said he was gratified by the ruling but that it would be "unconscionable" for prosecutors to retry the case.

"It's time for this to end," Mondros said. "I think they should drop the prosecution."

Joe Rogalsky, a spokesman for Attorney General Beau Biden, said prosecutors respect the court's ruling.

"We will in short order assess the feasibility of retrying a case that's 20 years old," Rogalsky said.

In overturning Wright's conviction and death sentence in 2012, Superior Court Judge John Parkins Jr. noted that Wright was under the influence of heroin and not properly advised of his rights during a lengthy police interrogation that resulted in a confession. Parkins also said Wright's trial attorneys were never given potentially exculpatory information suggesting that Seifert may have been killed by two men who tried to rob another liquor store earlier that night.

The Supreme Court overturned Parkins, saying arguments about the confession were procedurally barred, and that evidence about the earlier robbery attempt would not have led to a different result.

Defense attorneys subsequently argued that prosecutors failed to disclose that Gerald Samuels, a jailhouse informant who testified against Wright, had obtained a plea deal for testifying against a co-defendant in an earlier drug case, and that Samuels expected similar leniency for testifying against Wright.

Wright's attorneys also argued that prosecutors failed to divulge information about another witness, who they argued had committed the liquor store killing with a cousin.  Wright's attorneys said prosecutors knew but failed to divulge that Kevin Jamison, who had been called as a witness by defense attorneys, committed perjury in testifying against Wright.

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