Delaware High Court Orders New Hearing in Death Penalty Case

Sep 13, 2012

DOVER, Del. (AP) - The state Supreme Court has ordered a new penalty hearing for a taxi driver sentenced to death for the fatal stabbing of a 78-year-old Sussex County woman.

In a ruling issued Tuesday, the court agreed that a prosecutor improperly suggested to jurors that Leslie Small was simply making excuses for his behavior at his penalty hearing in an effort to avoid the death penalty.

The court said those comments distorted the purpose of the penalty hearing, in which jurors compare aggravating and mitigating circumstances to determine whether the death penalty is warranted.

The 54-year-old Small was sentenced to death for the 2009 robbery and killing of June McCarson.

McCarson was killed after Small drove her around on several errands