Federal panel rejects Miss. inmate appeal

Published 12:55 am Sunday, May 22, 2011

A federal appeals court panel has denied the post-conviction claims of Mississippi death row inmate Larry Matthew Puckett.

Puckett was convicted and sentenced to death in 1996 for the sexual assault and beating death of a woman in her Forrest County home.

Puckett had sought a new trial on grounds that blacks were kept off his trial jury and that prosecutors shouldn’t have been allowed to discuss his post-arrest silence. A federal judge in Mississippi rejected Puckett’s claims. On Thursday, a three-judge panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals agreed.

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Puckett was convicted in the 1995 death of Rhonda Griffis, 28, of the Sunrise community. Authorities said Griffis died from blows to the head.

The Mississippi Supreme Court upheld Puckett’s conviction in 2000.