New trial rejected for man convicted 3 times in killing
LEWISTON, Idaho (AP) — A request for a new trial from a man who was convicted three times in the killing of a Texas couple in 1983 was denied, a judge said.
Nez Perce County Judge Jay Gaskill denied a motion by 63-year-old Mark Lankford Tuesday, saying evidence presented to a jury this year supports the finding of guilty, the Lewiston Tribune reported.
A request for more time to investigate Lankford’s claim that the jury received evidence outside of court was also denied, Gaskill said.
Lankford requested the new trial after a jury convicted him of first-degree murder Sept. 20 in the death of Cheryl and Robert Bravence in the Idaho County backcountry in June 1983, officials said.
He successfully appealed his first two convictions, officials said.
Lankford said the court erred in instructing the jury that the death penalty was not a sentencing option and in allowing prosecutors to re-examine his brother about phone calls made in prison to him.
Prosecutors wanted to use the calls to question the brother’s testimony, but the request to use that evidence was denied, officials said.
“Due to the isolated nature of where the crime occurred and the fact that many years have passed since the Bravences’ deaths, it is reasonable to say that this case was based substantially on circumstantial evidence,” Gaskill said in the order. “The probative value of the evidence in this case supports the jury verdict.”
Lankford was sentenced to two life sentences without parole Oct. 25 after being incarcerated for more than 35 years, Gaskill said.