Third trial in prison killing ordered

Wednesday, September 12, 2001

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- An inmate twice convicted and sentenced to death for a 1983 prison murder has been granted yet another new trial by the Missouri Supreme Court.

Justices said improper prosecution references to Robert Driscoll's involvement in the white supremacy group Aryan Brotherhood may have influenced some jurors to convict, rather than acquit him in a 1999 trial.

In a unanimous decision Tuesday written by Chief Justice Stephen Limbaugh Jr., Missouri's highest court overturned Driscoll's conviction and death sentence and ordered a third trial.

Driscoll was serving a 10-year sentence for a robbery in St. Louis when he was involved in a July 3, 1983, prison riot at the Missouri Training Center for Men in Moberly. Corrections officer Thomas Jackson was stabbed to death.

Driscoll and fellow inmate Roy "Hog" Roberts were convicted of the killing and sentenced to death. Roberts was executed in 1999.

But the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ordered a new trial for Driscoll in 1994 on grounds he was denied adequate counsel and that his sentence was tainted by improper remarks a prosecutor made to jurors.

Jurors in Phelps County again convicted Driscoll in December 1999 and he was again sentenced to death.

The Supreme Court noted that the murdered officer was white, like the inmates charged in the crime.

Justices said the trial judge abused his discretion in allowing the Aryan Brotherhood evidence.

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