Oklahoma death-row inmate wins new trial

Tuesday, August 27th 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

DENVER (AP) _ An Oklahoma man sentenced to death won a new trial Monday when the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that prosecutors should have disclosed a letter implicating someone else.

The trial's outcome likely would have been different had prosecutors shown the letter to lawyers for Sidney Soren Scott, a three-judge panel said.

Scott was convicted of killing Henry Mattocks after drinking with him and several others in Enterprise, Okla., in February 1990. Neal Rinker, who was at the party, testified that Scott told him he was going to get $150 he needed from Mattocks, who was later found dead with his throat slit and his pickup truck partially burned.

Rinker said Scott admitted killing Mattocks, according to court records. He also testified against Scott during the sentencing stage.

Jurors recommended the death penalty.

Scott won an appeal from a federal court in Oklahoma on grounds that errors were made during the questioning of prospective jurors. Prosecutors challenged the decision.

The appeals court approved Scott's appeal on different grounds. The court said prosecutors should have disclosed a letter by Rinker in which defense lawyers argue he confessed to killing Mattocks. The defense didn't learn of the letter until after the trial, according to court records.