PHOENIX — A federal appeals court has upheld the murder conviction and death sentence of an Arizona man for a 1995 killing.
But the 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in San Francisco also ruled Friday that 59-year-old Michael Joe Murdaugh should get a new sentencing hearing.
Murdaugh was convicted in January 2000 and sentenced to death in November 2001.
The appeals court noted that he was sentenced by a judge instead of a jury.
A U.S. Supreme Court ruling in 2002 held that juries and not judges must decide whether a defendant is eligible for the death penalty.
Murdaugh was accused of severely beating a man and robbing him of $180 and a cellphone.
The victim’s body was taken to northern Arizona, where it was mutilated and buried.