The California Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in the case of death row inmate Dennis Lawley of Modesto during the first week of January, according to a court schedule.
The high court affirmed Lawley's guilty verdict and death sentence in 2002. But it granted another review after Lawley filed a petition arguing that late District Attorney Jim Brazelton suppressed information about an alleged prison gang connection when he prosecuted the case.
Lawley, 64, of Modesto was the subject of 14 post-conviction hearings in Stanislaus County Superior Court in 2005.
The high court will consider a report from Judge John Griffin Jr., who is not convinced that Lawley, a paranoid schizophrenic, is innocent.
During his trial 17 years ago, Lawley defended himself and told the court his goal was to emulate the "beast" in the Bible's Book of Revelations.
He was convicted and sentenced to death for hiring Brian Seabourn to kill a man who had stolen from him. Kenny Stewart, 34, was shot twice in the head and left to die on Keyes Road southwest of Modesto in 1989.
Seabourn was convicted of second-degree murder in the shooting and was sentenced to 15 years to life in prison.