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High court reinstates lengthy prison term in Mich.

Tuesday - 11/5/2013, 11:41am  ET

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Supreme Court has reinstated a prison term of at least 20 years for a Michigan woman who was convicted of murdering her uncle by helping her aunt pour vodka down his throat and smother him.

The court, in its first opinion of the term Tuesday, unanimously reversed a federal appeals court that found that Vonlee Titlow received bad advice from a lawyer who counseled her to withdraw an agreement to plead guilty to a less serious offense with a 15-year maximum prison term.

Under the aborted plea deal, Titlow also would have testified against her aunt. Without Titlow's testimony, the aunt was acquitted. A jury then convicted Titlow.

Justice Samuel Alito said for the court that the lawyer advised going to trial only after Titlow proclaimed her innocence.


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