The long saga of Rickey Dale Newman, convicted of slaying a woman in a transient camp near Van Buren in 2002, took another turn today.
The Arkansas Supreme Court reversed his conviction and ordered a new trial on the ground that he hadn’t been competent to testify in his original trial. At the trial, Newman fired his attorney, testified that he’d killed and mutilated the woman and asked for the death penalty.
A lengthy round of appeals have ensued in which Newman now argues that he was incompetent.
“Taking everything into account,” the court said, “we are persuaded that the record overwhelmingly illustrates that Newman’s cognitive deficits and mental illnesses interfered with his ability to effectively and rationally assist counsel.”
The decision reverses a lower court finding that Newman was competent.
The case was argued last week.