Arkansas High Court Says Death Row Inmate Should Get New Sentence

Jun 9, 2016

The Arkansas Supreme Court

The Arkansas Supreme Court has overturned the 2007 death sentence of a former police officer convicted of killing a Sharp County couple over an alleged child custody argument.

Justices sent the case against Steven Victor Wertz back to Sharp County Circuit Court for resentencing Thursday. The majority opinion says the lower court jury did not fill out two separate sets of sentencing documents for the two charges of capital murder in the 1986 deaths of Kathy and Terry Watts in Ash Flat.

The court had previously denied Wertz's appeal of the conviction, but said Thursday that the single set of verdict forms meant the jury had not been given the opportunity to consider the circumstances around each killing before determining a sentence.

Two justices dissented in separate opinions.