A former Laguna Beach resident previously found guilty of plotting to put a judge through a wood chipper had his conviction overturned this month after a federal court ruled a lower court had wrongly determined he was incapable of representing himself at trial.
The July 24 ruling from the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals allows a new trial for John Arthur Walthall.
In 2016, District Judge Cormac Carney sentenced Walthall — who was already serving a 14-year prison term for fraud — to 20 additional years after he was convicted of hatching a plan to kill the federal prosecutors, agents and judge who oversaw his earlier case.
That case began in 2007 when Walthall scammed an elderly couple into investing $5.5 million into a proposed business plan to extract gold from abandoned mines. Walthall instead used the money to cover his son’s film school tuition, pay alimony to his ex-wife and buy a hyperbaric oxygen chamber, prosecutors said.
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