Mo. judge bars character testimony in murder case

Oct 4, 2013

Credit Flickr / steakpinball

A judge has excluded testimony about the good character of a southeast Missouri murder victim when his convicted killer gets a new sentencing hearing.

The ruling Friday by Boone County Circuit Judge Kevin Crane comes as attorneys are preparing for a sentencing hearing for Mark Gill.

Gill was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to death for the March 2004 slaying of Ralph Lape Jr. of rural Cape Girardeau County. The Missouri Supreme Court in 2009 overturned his sentence because his attorneys failed to counter testimony about Lape's good character with evidence of child pornography found on Lape's computer.

Gill's new sentencing hearing is scheduled for April.

Crane granted a defense motion Friday to exclude good-character evidence. He also heard testimony challenging the constitutionality of the death penalty.