Pennsylvania death row inmate Ernest Simmons, who was once four days from execution for the grisly murder of an 80-year-old Johnstown woman, has been granted a new trial because of prosecutorial misconduct.
In a 52-page opinion issued Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Sean J. McLaughlin ordered Simmons, 47, to be retried within 120 days or released because police and prosecutors "withheld favorable evidence that could have been used to substantially impeach the testimony of the most pivotal prosecution witness."
"When you take a look at what happened in this case, you have to be shocked," said Robert Dunham, an assistant federal defender with the Defender Association of Philadelphia, Simmons' appellate attorneys.
The ruling said Simmons' rights were violated by police and prosecutors who hid secretly recorded tapes and hair evidence that supported Simmons' innocence.
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