For Immediate Release
Media Contact: Bob Cooper
Date: October 1, 2007
U.S. Supreme Court Declines to Consider Mark Lankford Case
(Boise) – The United States Supreme Court has declined to hear the State of Idaho’s appeal of a Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals decision in the case of convicted murderer Mark Lankford. As a result, a ruling by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals will stand, Attorney General Wasden said.
On November 7, 2006, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ordered that Mark Lankford be retried or released. The Idaho County Prosecuting Attorney has jurisdiction over the case and will determine how to proceed.
“We asked the Supreme Court to reverse this decision because we believe it is legally flawed,” Attorney General Wasden said. “Mark Lankford was charged with felony-murder. Under Idaho law, participation in a robbery in which a person is murdered constitutes felony-murder. The state’s evidence corroborated Bryan Lankford’s testimony that Mark Lankford participated in a robbery in which a murder was committed. Idaho law does not require proof that Mark Lankford himself did the killing; only that he participated in a robbery in which a murder occurred. Although we are disappointed that the Supreme Court did not accept this case for review, we respect and accept the Court’s decision.”
Both of the Lankford brothers were sentenced to death. Following appeals, Bryan’s sentence was reduced to life in prison.
The Idaho Supreme Court affirmed Mark Lankford’s conviction and death sentence in 1989. U.S. District Judge William Fremming Nielson denied his appeal before the United States District Court in 2003.
On November 7, 2006, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed Judge Nielson’s decision and ordered the state to give Lankford a new trial or release him. The Ninth Circuit concluded there was “a reasonable probability” he would have been acquitted if his defense attorney had not submitted an improper jury instruction. The instruction related to the legal requirements for corroboration of the testimony of Mark Lankford’s accomplice, Bryan Lankford.
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