On February 17, 2012, a Mississippi state trial court vacated Fred Sanford Spicer’s death sentence and granted him a new sentencing hearing. The court’s decision followed an evidentiary hearing that focused on his trial counsel’s inadequate investigation and presentation of mitigation evidence during the penalty phase of his trial. The hearing featured testimony by several family members, a clinical social worker, and a forensic psychiatrist, and revealed that Mr. Spicer had grown up in a household characterized by physical abuse, neglect, poverty, substance abuse, and violence and that he suffered from a major mental illness. None of this evidence or testimony had been introduced on Mr. Spicer’s behalf at his trial.
At the new sentencing hearing held on September 27, 2012, the State announced that, in the “interests of justice,” it would no longer seek the death penalty. The judge then resentenced Mr. Spicer to life without the possibility of parole. A team of attorneys at Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom, along with federal defender David Voisin, have worked tirelessly on Mr. Spicer’s behalf for the past six years, beginning with a successful habeas petition in 2007 and culminating with this life-saving victory. The Project congratulates the entire Skadden team for their outstanding work on this case.