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The decisions are in line with last week's ruling in another Texas case where the justices, in a 5-4 vote, said a condemned prisoner had deficient legal help early because appeals lawyers didn't raise challenges that his trial lawyers were ineffective.
The high court returned the cases to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for review. None of the six has a pending execution date, although some had come close to being put to death in the past before their punishment was delayed by the courts.
Among the condemned prisoners is Donald Newbury, 51, one of seven inmates who broke out of a South Texas prison in 2000. One fugitive killed himself as Colorado authorities closed in on the gang. The remaining six were convicted of killing a suburban Dallas police officer Aubrey Hawkins during a Christmas Eve robbery in Irving in 2000. Two of the six already have been executed.
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