COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — A federal appeals court has ordered a new sentencing hearing for a South Carolina inmate who has spent more than two decades on death row.
The State newspaper reports that Sammie Louis Stokes was sentenced to death in 1999 for the rape and murder of 21-year-old Connie Snipes in Orangeburg County.
Court records show Stokes was paid $2,000 by the victim’s mother-in-law, who wanted Snipes dead to gain custody of her grandchildren
Judges for the 4th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled Thursday that Stokes’ defense attorneys twice withheld evidence about Stokes’ abusive childhood and other traumas that may have influenced his sentencing.
The judges ordered a new sentencing hearing but did not set a deadline.