Man convicted of killing girl, 4, in oven may get new trial

John Lane, 66, is currently serving a life sentence for cooking a 4-year-old girl in an oven because he thought she was a demon (Maine Department of Corrections)

A federal judge says a man should seek a new trial two decades after a jury convicted him of killing a 4-year-old girl by cooking her in an oven because he thought she was a demon.

The judge recommends that John Lane, 66, be allowed to argue he was too mentally ill to file an appeal for a new trial sooner.

The former Auburn, Maine, man was convicted of murder in 1985 for placing Angela Palmer in an oven, turning up the heat and blocking her escape by putting a chair under the handle of the oven door. Auburn firefighters, responding to a report of smoke in Lane's apartment building on Oct. 27, 1984, found the little girl's remains inside the oven.

In a motion filed Friday in federal court, Lane petitioned that his lawyer did a poor job of defending him and should have introduced his mental health records during the trial. Lane has been treated for psychosis since his imprisonment, ABC affiliate WCVB-TV reports.

The state Attorney General's Office is now expected to respond to the recommendation.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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