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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — A Kentucky judge says a state prosecutor acted out of vindictiveness when he charged two men with kidnapping and perjury after the state Supreme Court vacated their murder convictions.

Judge Bruce Butler ruled earlier this month that Assistant Attorney General Perry Ryan was acting out of vindictiveness when he had a grand jury indict Jeffrey Clark and Keith Hardin.

The men were convicted of killing Rhonda Warford as part of a satanic ritual and spent more than 20 years in prison before new DNA evidence led justices to order a new trial.

The Courier-Journal said Butler wrote that vindictive conduct “by persons with the awesome powers of prosecutors is unacceptable.”

Butler dismissed the perjury and kidnapping charges, which the Attorney General’s Office said were pursued by a Meade County prosecutor.


Information from: The Courier-Journal,