Supreme Court tosses death sentence

Photo by Hugh Osteen

Photo by Hugh Osteen

The Associated Press

ATLANTA -- The Georgia Supreme Court has thrown out the death sentence for a Clayton County man but upheld his murder conviction.

In an opinion released Friday, the court overturned the death sentence for David Aaron Perkins for the murder of his neighbor.

The court cited Perkins' attorneys' failure to investigate abuse Perkins suffered as a child and the brain injuries he received later.

But in a decision written by Justice David Nahmias, the high court upheld a ruling denying on procedural grounds Perkins' claim that he was mentally incompetent when he stood trial.

Perkins was convicted in Clayton County for the 1995 murder of his neighbor, Herbert Ryals III.

Evidence showed that Perkins beat Ryals with his guitar, stabbed him and hit him in the head with a liquor bottle.