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Judge gives defense reason to reach deal in murder case

HARLAN — A special judge has set an Oct. 3 deadline for prosecutors and a Death Row inmate to reach a deal in a 1981 murder case, or face a jury and ask for a new sentence in the case.

Special judge Cletus Maricle said he will order a new penalty phase trial for Hugh Marlowe if no deal is reached by the deadline. If there were a new penalty phase trial, jurors would assume Marlowe's guilt and impose a new sentence.

Marlowe's death sentence was overturned in 2001 because of ineffective assistance of counsel. The Kentucky Supreme Court affirmed that decision in 2007.

Marlowe was convicted of robbing Henry Hamblin, 78, of Dartmont on Nov. 13, 1981. Hamblin was shot with a pistol and beaten to death.

Commonwealth's Attorney Henry Johnson and defense lawyer Gail Robinson asked Maricle on Friday for more time to work out a plea agreement on the penalty phase, which has been complicated by changes in the law since Marlowe was convicted.

Marlowe has served nearly 27 years in prison. His options at this point are to accept the death penalty or 20 years to life under the state law of 1981, or let a jury decide. Life without parole did not exist as a sentence in 1981.

Robinson said a life sentence without the possibility of parole — which is a state law today — can be imposed only if Marlowe agrees.