Maryland's highest court on Thursday granted a new manslaughter trial to Ricky Savoy, saying that a jury instruction in his Baltimore trial in the 1993 death of Marvin Watts was improper. In a 5-2 ruling that overturned the conviction, the majority of the Court of Appeals judges wrote that a jury instruction lowered prosecutors' burden of proof from the familiar "beyond a reasonable doubt," which is what is constitutionally required. A judge told them that proof was also to be to a "moral certainty," which was explained as "based upon convincing grounds of probability." In a dissenting opinion, two judges disagreed, and also noted that because Savoy's lawyers didn't object at his 1994 trial, the issue should not be before the court. Savoy, now 33, was convicted of manslaughter and two weapons violations in what police said was an argument between Watts and Savoy. Prosecutors will have to decide whether to retry the case.

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