JACKSON - The state's highest court has thrown out a drug conviction of a man sitting on death row at the Mississippi State Penitentiary for killing a newspaper carrier.

Marlon Howell was indicted in early 1998 for the sale of marijuana. He later pleaded to the reduced charge of possession of a controlled substance and sentenced to two years suspended and one year of house arrest. When he violated his probation two years later, a judge revoked probation and sentenced him to 3 years.

In 2016, he argued that the sentence was more than the law allowed at the time and asked that the conviction and sentence be vacated. Circuit court ruled he had no legal standing, since he had already served the sentence. On appeal, the Mississippi Supreme Court agreed. On Thursday, the high court reversed the conviction and sent the case back to Union County Circuit Court to be reconsidered.

In May 2000, he was arrested in the shooting death of Daily Journal newspaper carrier Hugh David Pernell in New Albany. He was later convicted of capital murder and sentenced to death. The state supreme court upheld the conviction and death sentence in 2003.

william.moore@journalinc.com

Twitter:@WilliamMoore_DJ

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