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Court orders new trial for Mark Lankford

Prosecution error violated ‘fair trial’ for twice-convicted double-murderer


Mark H. Lankford

— Robert and Cheryl Bravence were murdered in the woods in 1983 and justice for them has followed a twisted path, which this week turned, again, in favor of a man juries have convicted twice already. 

Mark Lankford is headed for yet another trial.

Mark Lankford has accused his brother, Bryan Lankford, of performing the deadly acts for which both were previously convicted and sentenced to death. Each man slipped the noose: Bryan by having his death sentence reduced to life in prison by the U.S. Supreme Court, Mark by having his original conviction tossed by the federal Ninth Circuit.

After the Ninth Circuit’s order for a new trial remanded his 1984 conviction, Mark Lankford was convicted in 2008 and renewed his fight in the appellate courts.

Idaho’s Supreme Court on Monday, July 25, awarded Mark Lankford another new trial, holding that prosecutors failed two ways: they did not give the juries evidence that might have undercut the word of a key witness, and they did not correct that witness’s false testimony. The ruling described the issue as a “failure to disclose the full extent of the prosecutors’ promises to the witness and the prosecution’s failure to correct the witness’ false statements regarding those promises.” The result “violated Lankford’s right to a fair trial.” 

The ruling undoes the 2008 sentence: two life terms to be served in prison, without parole, back-to-back.

Justice Roger S. Burdick dissented from Monday’s 4-1 decision, because, he wrote, “I believe the details of the agreement were adequately disclosed, and that any additional details about what was agreed to by the prosecutors...would not have effected the judgment of the jury.”

Further details regarding the new trial were not available at press time.


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