Court overturns conviction in 1982 murder

By LARRY O'DELL | November 22, 2011 | 4:45 PM EST

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — A federal appeals court in Virginia has tossed out the conviction of a South Carolina man who has spent 29 years in prison, most of it on death row, in the slaying of a 75-year-old widow.

In a 2-1 ruling Tuesday, a panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond said Edward Lee Elmore's trial lawyers failed to challenge forensic evidence that could have exonerated him. The court said that failure violated Elmore's constitutional right to effective assistance of counsel.

Elmore was convicted in 1982 of the murder of Dorothy Edwards. She was stabbed 52 times at her Greenwood home.

Elmore was on death row until last year, when a judge ruled him mentally unfit to be executed and another judge sentenced him to life without parole.