Oklahoma appeals court tosses life sentence in rape case

Oklahoma appeals court tosses life sentence in rape case

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - A life-without-parole sentence for a man convicted of raping an elderly Nowata County woman has been thrown out by an Oklahoma appeals court that cited "alarming" prosecutorial misconduct during closing arguments.

The Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals on Wednesday vacated the sentences of Travis Dillion Barnes for first-degree rape and burglary. In its unanimous opinion, the court said the prosecutor's commentary on Barnes' right to a trial was "nothing short of alarming."

The right of a criminal defendant to a jury trial is protected by both the Oklahoma and U.S. constitutions, and the court said a defendant cannot be punished for exercising that right.

Nowata County District Attorney Kevin Buchanan declined Wednesday to comment on the court's ruling until he had time to read its opinion.

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