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California Supreme Court overturns O.C. killer's death sentence

February 2, 2012 |  2:38 pm

The California Supreme Court on Thursday voted unanimously to overturn the death penalty for an Orange County man convicted of burning a woman to death over $100 of methamphetamine.

The high court ruled that Orange County Superior Court Judge John J. Ryan failed to properly instruct the jury that recommended the death sentence for Gary Galen Brents, who was convicted of the 1995 murder of Kelly Gordon.

Gordon was a prostitute who worked for Brents and had agreed to sell $100 in methamphetamine for him. When he tried to collect, she had neither the drugs nor the money.

Brents then tried to suffocate her, choked her and finally put her in the trunk of a car he doused with gasoline and ignited.

Attorneys in the case were not immediately available for comment. Brents could be sentenced to life in prison or prosecutors may seek to retry the penalty phase of his case.

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-- Maura Dolan in San Francisco

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