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Supreme Court Rules Murder Conviction Unconstitutional
The Ohio Supreme Court has upheld a ruling that the retrial and murder conviction of a Columbus woman was unconstitutional.
In 2005, Toneisha Gunnell and three other women were convicted of murder after they hit and killed a man while fleeing security guards after shoplifting from a Springfield mall.
Gunnellâ€™s conviction was overturned over an error in jury selection.
In her second trial a judge declared a mistrial after a juror admitted researching legal terms online. In a third trial in 2009, Gunnell was convicted on murder and other charges.
Then a year later, the 2nd District Court of Appeals overturned her conviction, ruling that it amounted to double jeopardy.
On Thursday, the Ohio Supreme Court upheld the appeals court ruling. In a rare 4-3 ruling, the Supreme Court declared the judge erred in declaring a mistrial in Gunnellâ€™s second trial.
Writing for the majority, Chief Justice Maureen Oâ€™Connor wrote that the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled a court can only override a defendantâ€™s objection to a mistrial, as Gunnell had done, if itâ€™s absolutely necessary. Oâ€™Connor wrote that the judge speculated about the jurorâ€™s intent and did not establish whether the research created bias.