LOS ANGELES (AP) — The California Supreme Court decided unanimously Thursday to overturn a man’s conviction in the killing of a Los Angeles Police Department officer 37 years ago during a traffic stop, according to a newspaper report. 

Citing extensive evidence that the defense lawyer for Kenneth Earl Gay was incompetent, the state high court reversed the conviction that sent Gay to death row in Officer Paul Verna’s killing in 1983, the Los Angeles Times reported. Gay is now 60.

The court overturned Gay’s death sentence years ago on the grounds he had an inadequate lawyer, and a new trial was held on whether he should be condemned to death. Another jury recommended death, but the second death sentence also was overturned.

Gay then argued that his lawyer, Daye Shinn, also botched the guilty phase of his trial. Shinn, who was later disbarred and has since died, lied to get Gay’s case, according to evidence. The lawyer also counseled the defendant to admit to incriminating evidence and failed to introduce evidence that might have persuaded a jury to acquit him or spare his life, the newspaper said. 

Both Gay and a co-defendant, Raynard Cummings, were passengers in the stolen car stopped by motorcycle officer Verna. Witnesses disagreed about which man shot Verna. Both were convicted and sentenced to death.

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