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Fed. court reverses death sentence for AZ killer

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Posted at 2:13 PM, Dec 30, 2015
and last updated 2015-12-30 16:21:02-05

A federal appeals court has overturned a double-murderer's death sentence and potentially opened the door for other death row inmates to challenge their sentences.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Arizona unconstitutionally excluded information about the James McKinney's post-traumatic stress disorder which may have led to a lower sentence. McKinney was convicted of two counts of first degree murder and was sentenced to death in 1993.

From the late 1980s to 2006, Arizona required that mitigating factors like mental illness or PTSD could only be relevant in sentencing if they were directly tied to the crime committed.

The 6 to 5 decision means the state will have to retry McKinney's sentence, give him a lesser one or appeal. The Attorney General's office says it will likely appeal.