Former Arkansas death row inmate freed after 16 years

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  • Rickey Dale Newman, a former Arkansas death-row inmate has walked free
  • He had been in custody since confessing to killing and dismembering Marie Cholette her in February 2001 
  • A judge granted a request to drop all charges against the confessed murderer 
  • Arkansas Supreme Court ruled because of mental diseases and defects, Rickey Dale Newman's confessions were deemed inadmissible

By Associated Press

Published: 16:44 EDT, 12 October 2017 | Updated: 18:43 EDT, 12 October 2017

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 prosecutors dropped a murder charge against a former death row inmate, Rickey Dale Newman, after courts ruled they couldn't use incriminating statements the man had made in a police interview
Arkansas prosecutors dropped a murder charge against a former death row inmate, Rickey Dale Newman, after courts ruled they couldn't use incriminating statements the man had made in a police interview

Arkansas prosecutors dropped a murder charge against a former death row inmate, Rickey Dale Newman, after courts ruled they couldn't use incriminating statements the man had made in a police interview

Newman was released from Crawford County jail  on Wednesday 
Newman was released from Crawford County jail  on Wednesday 

Newman was released from Crawford County jail  on Wednesday 

Arkansas' Supreme Court in 2014 overturned Newman's conviction, citing his intellectual disability and finding that he was incompetent at the time of his trial, and ordering a new one.

Last month the court 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.

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

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

Attorney, Julie Brain of Philadelphia, earlier this month had asked the murder charge be dismissed based on Newman's mental incompetency at the time of this trial. 

'Mr. Newman has now been incarcerated for over 16 years for a murder that he did not commit,' Brain wrote in an October 2 letter to Crawford County Circuit Court Judge Gary R. Cottrell. 

“It has been almost five years since the Arkansas Supreme Court found that he was mentally incompetent at the time when he was originally tried and when he gave incriminating statements to police — statements that were the only meaningful evidence against him.”

Brain wrote that her letter was in response to a letter from appointed Prosecuting Attorney Ron Fields.

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.

Larry White
By Larry White 12/10/2017 18:43:00