U.S. Supreme Court Takes Up Kentucky Death Penalty Case

Jun 27, 2013

Robert Keith Woodall
Credit Kentucky Department of Corrections

The U.S. Supreme Court will decide the fate of a death row inmate condemned for the kidnapping and killing of a high school honor student in western Kentucky.

The high court on Thursday granted a Kentucky prosecutor's appeal seeking to reinstate the death sentence of 39-year-old Robert Keith Woodall. A jury sentenced Woodall to die for the 1997 death of 16-year-old Sarah Hansen. Hansen vanished on Jan. 25, 1997, after going to a store in Greenville. Her remains were later found in Luzerne Lake.

U.S. District Judge Thomas B. Russell overturned Woodall's death sentence in 2009, concluding that jurors were improperly instructed before sentencing and Woodall didn't get a chance to object to the dismissal of a black juror.

The case will be heard later this year or in the spring of 2014.