THE DEATH SENTENCE HAS BEEN OVERTURNED FOR A MAN WHO KIDNAPPED AND KILLED A PREGNANT WALKER COUNTY WOMAN IN 1989.  JAMES RAY WARD WILL GET A NEW SENTENCING HEARING, AFTER THE RULING BY A FEDERAL APPEALS PANEL.  23 YEAR OLD NIKIA GILBREATH AND HER UNBORN CHILD WERE KILLED BY WARD IN 1989… HIS CONVICTIONS STILL STAND. BUT THE THREE JUDGE PANEL RULED THAT THERE WAS "IMPROPER BAILIFF-JURY COMMUNICATION" DURING THE PENALTY PHASE OF HIS TRIAL. THE BAILIFF, WHEN ASKED BY JURORS, REPORTEDLY TOLD THEM THAT A SENTENCE OF LIFE WITHOUT PAROLE FOR WARD, WAS "NOT AN OPTION".  THE VICTIM WAS 5 MONTHS PREGNANT WHEN SHE WAS ABDUCTED FROM HER HOME IN VILLANOW AND KILLED.

WQCH