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Judge Throws Out Death Sentence for Inmate

December 27, 2005

PHILADELPHIA (AP) _ A federal judge Tuesday threw out the death sentence of an inmate convicted of strangling his cellmate nearly a decade ago.

U.S. District Judge Malcolm Muir ruled that prosecutors should have disclosed to David Paul Hammer’s lawyers the existence of four interviews that may have supported Hammer’s claim that he used rope made from bed sheets for bondage sex.

The interviews could have led the jury to conclude that Hammer did not engage in substantial planning before he killed Andrew Marti at Allenwood Federal Penitentiary in 1996, the judge said.

The judge ordered a new sentencing hearing.

Muir rejected Hammer’s claim that he was mentally incompetent when he pleaded guilty in 1998 or when he sought to abandon his appeals.

Hammer, 47, is being held at the federal prison in Terre Haute, Ind. At the time of the slaying, he was in federal prison after being charged with escape.

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