The Florida Supreme Court has ordered a new trial for a man sentenced to death for a 1996 fatal stabbing.
The court unanimously upheld a lower court's 2010 decision Thursday to grant a retrial to 51-year-old Michael Peter Fitzpatrick. Justices found that Fitzpatrick had ineffective help from his trial attorney, who should have consulted with experts on the DNA and other forensic evidence used against him.
Fitzpatrick had been accused of raping and killing 28-year-old Laura Romines, whose boyfriend had recently kicked her out. She was found naked with a slit throat on the side of a rural Land O' Lakes road in August 1996. She died three weeks later.
The Tampa Tribune reported that Fitzpatrick was working as a pizza deliveryman at the time and acknowledged giving Romines a ride to a motel, where he claimed they had consensual sex.
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