Nov 18, 7:42 PM EST

Man convicted of death after 1993 beating to be resentenced

PITTSBURGH (AP) -- The state Supreme Court has ordered a resentencing hearing for a man in the death of a woman left in a vegetative state for almost a decade and a half following a 1993 beating.

Stevenson Rose, 51, was convicted along with another man in Allegheny County Court in the beating of Mary Mitchell. He was sentenced to 15 to 30 years in prison on aggravated assault and conspiracy convictions.

After Mitchell died in 2007, prosecutors filed homicide charges. But since the time of the crime, state lawmakers had doubled the maximum third-degree murder penalty from 10 to 20 years to 20 to 40 years. A judge imposed the longer term, and Rose appealed.

The state Superior Court in 2013 threw out the 20- to 40-year term, saying it was unfair to sentence Rose under a more stringent penalty than was in effect at the time of the crime.

Defense attorney William Kaczynski argued before the court in April that the longer sentence violated the principal of ex post facto - that is, a law that is changed after the fact to make the punishment for a crime more severe or retroactive prosecution for an act that was legal when it occurred but later became illegal.

Allegheny County Assistant District Attorney Keaton Carr argued that the longer term was fair "because there was no crime of homicide until after the victim died."

The state Supreme Court on Wednesday sided with the defense, saying the Superior Court was correct in ruling that imposing the longer term violated Rose's rights.

The high court's decision noted that "all of Rose's criminal acts occurred prior to the increase, and, at the time he committed the criminal acts, he could not have had fair warning that he could face 40 years imprisonment if the victim died as a result of his actions."

The state Supreme Court ordered the case sent back to Allegheny County Court, where Rose could be eligible for parole because of the time he has already served.

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