Ark. court upholds Sharp County conviction in 1986 slayings

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - The Arkansas Supreme Court has upheld the capital murder convictions of a Florida man on death row for the 1986 New Year's Eve slayings of an Ash Flat couple.

Steven Wertz was convicted by a Sharp County jury last year in the 1986 shooting deaths of Terry and Kathy Watts, who were found dead at their home.

Police say the couple was killed in front of their infant son as the result of a custody dispute involving the 5-year-old daughter of Terry Watts. At the time of the Watts' slayings, Wertz was married to the girl's mother, and they were living at Cushing, Oklahoma.

Wertz's accomplice, James Snyder Junior, reached a deal with prosecutors and was sentenced to five years in prison. Snyder testified in court against Wertz.

Justices rejected Wertz's arguments that the evidence did not back up Snyder's testimony. The court also said that evidence showed Wertz knew that the Watts' infant son was in the house when his parents were killed.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.