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Manning continues pursuit of new trial

January 19, 2013

JACKSON (AP) — Mississippi prosecutors now have until Feb. 11 to respond to a death row inmate's ongoing effort to win a new trial for the killing of two university students in 1992.

In an order signed this week, the U.S. Supreme Court granted a request from Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood for more time. Hood's original deadline was Jan. 10.

On Dec. 3, Willie Jerome Manning asked U.S. Supreme Court to listen to his arguments for a new trial.

Manning has argued that defense attorneys should have done a better job and that black residents were inappropriately excluded from his Oktibbeha County jury. Manning is African-American.

The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals turned Manning down last July. The court said Manning filed his post-conviction claim too late to be heard in state courts.

Hood has said he will ask to have an execution date set if the U.S. Supreme Court denies the request.

Manning, now 44, received two death sentences for the 1992 slayings of two Mississippi State University students, Jon Steckler and Tiffany Miller.

On Dec. 11, 1992, the bodies of Miller and Steckler were discovered in rural Oktibbeha County. Both students had been shot to death, and Miller's car was missing. The vehicle was found the next morning.

Prosecutors said Manning was arrested after he attempted to sell certain items belonging to the victims.

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