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9:57 am
Fri March 26, 2010

Court Upholds Ruling

Tulsa, OK – Appeals court upholds murder conviction ruling

TULSA, Okla. (AP) A federal appeals court has affirmed a lower court ruling that granted a new trial to an Oklahoma death row inmate.

The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said Thursday Lonnie Richie's first-degree murder conviction had to be overturned because the jury wasn't instructed that it could have considered a second-degree depraved-mind murder verdict.

A jury convicted Richie of killing Laura Launhardt, who disappeared in August 1991 after shopping at a Tulsa Kmart store. Her body was found in an abandoned house near Lake Keystone.

The Oklahoma Attorney General's office appealed U.S. District Judge Terence Kern's decision throwing out the conviction. Spokesman Charlie Price said the office will discuss its options with Tulsa prosecutors.

Richie's attorney, Randy Bauman, couldn't be reached for comment.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.