Arkansas drops murder charge against former death row inmate

Charges were dropped against Rickey Dale Newman on Wednesday afternoon. (Photo courtesy: Vinelink)

VAN BUREN, Ark. (AP) -- Arkansas prosecutors dropped a murder charge against a former death row inmate after courts ruled they couldn't use incriminating statements the man had made in a police interview.

Rickey Dale Newman had told jurors he killed 46-year-old Marie Cholette at a transient camp near Van Buren in February 2001. Arkansas' Supreme Court in 2014 overturned Newman's conviction, citing his mental defects, and last month rejected an attempt by prosecutors to use the police interview in a new trial.

Special prosecutor Ron Fields wrote to the court Tuesday that, without the confession, there was insufficient evidence against Newman. On Wednesday, Judge Gary Cottrell granted Fields' request to drop the case.

Newman's lawyer says police took advantage of the man's poor mental health despite his saying he couldn't remember killing the woman.

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