Rickey Dale Newman,
on Death Row for about 14 years, walked out of jail a free man about 2 p.m. this afternoon after charges against him were dropped.
serving as special prosecuting attorney in Crawford County, where Newman was convicted of killing and dismembering Marie Cholette in a Van Burean
transient camp in 2001, made the decision not to attempt a retrial of Newman, The decision followed a 2014 ruling by the Arkansas Supreme Court that his confessions to the crime were inadmissible because of mental disease and defects. Judge Gary Cottrell approved Fields' request to dismiss charges.
At this moment, no information is available about Newman's post-release living plans. His attorney in the appeal, Julie Brain of Philadelphia, has argued Newman didn't commit the crime.
The release turned on a decision Sept. 21 by the Arkansas Supreme Court. A new trial had been ordered for Newman on account of use
of confessions in his first trial. The state appealed and argued that the circuit court had erred in finding Newman wasn't competent to waive his rights to remain silent and to confess. The Supreme Court, in a decision written by Justice Shawn Womack, said the state had no ground for a further appeal of the evidentiary ruling.
The mandate of that decision was issued to the clerk of court today, which left the prosecution with the decision of attempting a trial without the admission or dismissing the charge. He chose dismissal.
Since the reversal of his conviction and subsequent court proceedings, Newman had spent about 11 months in jail in Crawford County. The Times Record reports here
. He was convicted in 2002.