Kansas City Mo. The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday denied the state's appeal of a ruling that overturned a man's conviction in a 1987 murder.
Leamon White, of Kansas City, was convicted of slitting the throat of a drug dealer at a Kansas City crack house on Jan. 6, 1987. Two other people were stabbed and two children escaped after being tied up.
The two surviving stabbing victims identified White as one of three assailants.
White has maintained his innocence and appealed his 1989 conviction and death sentence. He had argued that his attorney was ineffective, and that the victims confused him with someone else and no physical evidence tied him to the crime scene.
Opponents of the death penalty have pointed to White's case as one they believe involves an innocent man being sent to death row.
In June 2004, a federal district court threw out White's conviction and sentence, agreeing that his attorney was ineffective.
Last November, the U.S. Supreme Court denied the state's request to block the order overturning White's conviction from taking effect. Monday's ruling denied the state's efforts to have the Supreme Court hear the case.
The ruling means the case goes back to the Jackson County prosecutor to determine if there will be a new trial, said Scott Holste, spokesman for Atty. Gen. Jay Nixon.
In overturning the conviction and sentence, the federal appeals court agreed with a lower court that White's attorney should have presented testimony from other witnesses during the trial.