The Missouri Supreme Court issued an opinion on Tuesday in Jefferson City, which overturns the death sentence for a man convicted of killing the mother of his child and her boyfriend in southern Missouri’s Dent County in December 2011.
In a unanimous decision, the Missouri Supreme Court has ruled that the circuit court committed errors during the trial. The decision was written by Judge Mary R. Russell.
The Supreme Court has upheld the first degree murder conviction for 51-year-old Marvin Rice, but has ordered a new penalty phase trial. That’s because the Supreme Court says the circuit court abused its discretion in overruling Rice’s objections that prosecutors said in closing arguments that Rice declined to testify.
Rice was convicted of killing Annette Durham and her boyfriend, Steven Strotkamp. An autopsy revealed that Durham died from four gunshot wounds while Strotkamp was killed by two gunshot wounds.
The Missouri Supreme Court Tuesday also reversed Rice’s second degree murder conviction for Strotkamp’s death and ordered a new trial, due to what the Supreme Court calls instructional error. The circuit court erred in refusing to submit to the jury Rice’s proposed instructions for the lesser-included offenses of second degree murder and voluntary manslaughter.
The Missouri Supreme Court heard oral arguments in this case in January.
Quoting court filings, Missourinet reported in January that Marvin Rice was trying to drive to the Columbia VA Hospital, after the killings. His wife informed police of his plan, and a high-speed chase ensued that covered more than 90 miles and ended in Jefferson City, just a few blocks from the Capitol.
After spike strips flattened his vehicle’s tires, Rice drove through two intersections and ended up at the Capitol Plaza Hotel, where he jumped out of the moving car.
Rice then exchanged gunfire with an officer inside the busy hotel. The Jefferson City Medical Group was hosting their Christmas party inside Capitol Plaza, when the incident happened. None of them were injured.
Rice sustained bullet wounds to his hand, arm and back and was taken into custody.
Court documents filed by Rice’s attorneys say Rice was taking 17 different medications and had been diagnosed with 12 various medical and psychiatric conditions by the day of the murders, in December 2011.
Rice is currently incarcerated at the maximum-security Potosi Correctional Center (PCC) in southeast Missouri’s Mineral Point.
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