New Trial Ordered In W.V. Fatal Hospital Shooting

CHARLESTON, W.V. (AP) - A West Virginia woman convicted of fatally shooting her estranged husband in his hospital bed has won a new trial.

The state Supreme Court ruled Monday that Rhonda Kay Stewart be allowed to present a Battered Woman's Syndrome defense.

The 3-2 opinion concludes that the Kanawha Circuit jury should have heard that Stewart had been beaten and abused by Sammy Stewart throughout their 38-year marriage.

The 56-year-old was killed in CAMC Memorial Hospital's intensive-care unit while being treated for pancreatitis.

Rhonda Stewart was found guilty of first-degree murder in 2009. She was sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole after 15 years.

Monday's ruling instructs judges that a jury may consider evidence of abuse when determining such elements of a crime as premeditation, malice or intent.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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