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California high court tosses death penalty

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- The California Supreme Court has tossed out the murder conviction and death penalty sentence of a Riverside County man because of juror misconduct.

The high court ruled Monday that Fred Lewis Weatherton didn't receive a fair trial in 2002 because one of the jurors decided and discussed the case before the start of deliberations. The court said Weatherton is entitled to a new trial.

Weatherton was convicted of shooting to death two neighbors during a 1998 robbery in Indio. A third neighbor who was seriously wounded identified Weatherton as the shooter. Investigators also matched footprints at the scene to shoes Weatherton was wearing when he was arrested shortly after the incident.

The Riverside County District Attorney's office said it hasn't decided how it will proceed.

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