Ala. wins round in death penalty case

ATLANTA (AP) - The state of Alabama has won a round in its pursuit to carry out the death sentence of a man convicted of murder in the death of a sheriff 30 years ago.

Billy Joe Magwood was convicted of gunning down Coffee County Sheriff Neil Grantham in the jail parking lot March 1, 1979.

He was sentenced to death June 2, 1981.

After an appeal, Magwood's conviction was upheld but he was granted a new sentencing hearing.

He was resentenced to death in 1986 and set about challenging that.

Magwood succeeded with a 1997 habeas corpus petition when a federal judge ruled in his favor on two technicalities.

The state appealed, and a three-judge panel of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the lower court's ruling on Friday.

(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)