Ray Dansby Gets New Hearing in Capital Murder Case - Criminal Law - U.S. Eighth Circuit
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Ray Dansby Gets New Hearing in Capital Murder Case

A death row inmate had a partial victory in his case Thursday, as the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals handed down a ruling that remanded part of the case.

Ray Dansby was on death row for the 1992 capital murder of his ex-wife, Brenda Dansby, and her boyfriend, Ronnie Kimble, reports the Arkansas News Bureau.

The case went all the way up to the Arkansas Supreme Court. Subsequently, the defendant filed a writ of habeas before the federal district court, where several of his claims were denied.

Dansby raised five claims in his certificate of appealability and the Eighth Circuit vacated the district court’s dismissal of two of those claims.

The main issue behind the two claims revolved around the credibility of a witness, namely, Larry McDuffie, who was Dansby’s former cellmate. Certain evidence and questions regarding whether McDuffie was offered leniency in exchange for his testimony were excluded from the trial; Dansby argued that this was in violation of his rights under the Confrontation Clause. He also alleged that there was prosecutorial misconduct.

Sixth Amendment Confrontation Clause. The three-judge panel of the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals held that the district court erred when it dismissed Dansby’s Confrontation Clause claim.

The district court held that Dansby had failed to raise the issue in state court before he raised it in his habeas petition in federal court. The Eighth Circuit disagreed with the district court, holding that Dansby had specifically made reference to the Confrontation Clause in a brief before the Arkansas Supreme Court.

Prosecutorial Misconduct. The Eighth Circuit also overruled the district court on a claim of prosecutorial misconduct. Dansby alleged that prosecutors withheld evidence on the credibility of a witness. The Eighth Circuit held that the district court should have heard arguments on on the issue.

The case has been remanded for further decision on those two claims.

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