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RALEIGH, NC (AP) — An appeals court has overturned the conviction of a small-town North Carolina police chief convicted of first-degree murder in the 1972 shooting death of a Marine.

The North Carolina Court of Appeals on Tuesday said state prosecutors hadn’t shown enough evidence that George Hayden had the opportunity or means to kill Sgt. William Miller. Hayden is serving a life sentence for what prosecutors have said was an ambush triggered by a love triangle involving Miller’s wife at the time.

Hayden could be released in 20 days unless state prosecutors ask the North Carolina Supreme Court to hear the case. A spokeswoman for the attorney general’s office did not immediately return a message seeking comment.

Hayden’s attorney says she is happy for her client, who has consistently said he was innocent.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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