Judge overturns man's death sentence - KNOE 8 News; KNOE-TV; KNOE.com |

Judge overturns man's death sentence

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NEW ORLEANS (KNOE 8 News/AP) - A federal judge has overturned a man's death sentence and conviction in a 1993 murder during an armed robbery of a Natchitoches Parish nightclub.

U.S. District Judge Dee D. Drell of Alexandria granted 56-year-old Willard Allen's petition seeking to overturn his conviction, ruling last week that the state trial court allowed an "avowedly biased juror to be seated on petitioner's jury, through a fatally defective voir dire."

Drell returned the case to state court with instructions to conduct a bail hearing within 45 days of Thursday's judgment.

Allen, of Natchitoches, remains in custody at the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola. The state has 270 days to decide whether to retry him. Drell says if that doesn't happen the state must release him.

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