On Monday, A federal appeals court upheld the first-degree murder conviction and the death sentence of a Ponca City man for the June 1999 death of a young woman.
The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, based in Denver, rejected the claim from Clayton Darrell Lockett that his constitutional rights were violated during his trial.
A jury in Noble County convicted Lockett in the death of Stephanie Nieman of Perry. Along with first-degree murder, Lockett was also convicted on 18 other counts, including first-degree rape, kidnapping and robbery.
Jurors recommended a death sentence.
Investigators said Nieman and another 19-year-old woman had their hands bound with duct tape after Lockett and two other men forced their way into a home in Perry. Neiman's body was found in a shallow grave along a dirt road near Tonkawa.
Among other things, Lockett argued having the vistim's family speak during the sentencing phase of his trial violated his constitutional rights. The appeals court agreed that parts were unconstitutional, but that it didn't affect the outcome.
The court said statements by the victim's family members included "an unambiguous plea to the jury to sentence Mr. Lockett to death."
The appeals court said it has ruled in previous cases that overwhelming evidence of guilt and testimony about the brutality of the crime "clearly outweighed any potential impact of unconstitutional victim impact testimony."