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Former Arkansas death row inmate freed after 16 years

October 12, 2017 - 1:43 PM

VAN BUREN, Ark. - A former Arkansas death row inmate is a free man after spending more than 16 years in prison for murder.

Rickey Dale Newman was released from the Crawford County jail, after a special prosecutor dropped charges in a 2001 killing, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported.

Newman was convicted of first-degree murder in the mutilation slaying of Marie Cholette, 46, a fellow transient, at a camp in Van Buren.

Arkansas' Supreme Court in 2014 overturned Newman's conviction, citing his intellectual disability, and last month rejected an attempt by prosecutors to use the police interview in a new trial.

Special prosecutor Ron Fields wrote to the court that, without the confession, there was insufficient evidence against Newman.

"The Supreme Court's opinion will prevent all these incriminating statements from being introduced into evidence at any new trial," Fields said in his request. "Without this evidence, it is my belief that sufficient evidence does not exist at this time to retry the case."

Judge Gary Cottrell granted Fields' request to drop the case on Wednesday.

Newman's lawyer said police took advantage of the man's mental disability despite his saying he couldn't remember killing the woman.

Newman said he's a bit nervous to be free because he has no "idea what this world is all about." Newman said he doesn't know where he'll go, but says he won't stay in the area.


Information from: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette,

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