A judge has delayed an upcoming death penalty retrial for an Iowa woman charged with five drug-related murders while prosecutors appeal a ruling limiting the scope of the case.
The retrial for Angela Johnson had been scheduled to begin June 3 in Sioux City. U.S. District Judge Mark Bennett suspended it Tuesday after federal prosecutors filed notice that they'll appeal Bennett's pretrial orders that limit the evidence they can present.
Bennett ruled that the hearing would be limited only to asking jurors whether Johnson should receive the death penalty. Bennett will instruct jurors that he'll otherwise sentence Johnson to life in prison without parole.
Prosecutors say the ruling bars them from arguing Johnson would present a danger if released, and from presenting some evidence about planning for the murders in Mason City in 1993.
The victims were all killed execution style. Two were children. Johnson’s former boyfriend was also convicted and sentenced to death.
When Johnson was sentenced to death in December 2005, it was the first time a woman had been sentenced to Federal death row in 52 years.