DOTHAN, Ala. (AP) -- A state appeals court has again overturned the death sentence for a triple killing in Houston County and ordered a judge to resentence Jerry Jerome Smith.
Smith was convicted of killing 40-year-old Willie James Flournoy of Dothan, 26-year-old Theresa Ann Helms of Wicksburg and 29-year-old David Lee Bennett of Midland City in 1996 over a drug debt. His first two death sentences were overturned by appeals court. He was sentenced to death again last year by Circuit Judge Michael Conaway. But the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals struck down that sentence Friday because the judge made an incorrect statement to the jury, which unanimously recommended death. Prosecutors conceded the sentence had to be overturned.
The ruling will send the case back to Houston County for a fourth sentencing hearing.