updated 3/28/2005 2:47:29 PM ET 2005-03-28T19:47:29

The Colorado Supreme Court threw out the death sentence Monday of a man convicted of raping and killing a cocktail waitress because jurors consulted the Bible during deliberations.

The court said Bible passages, including the verse that commands “an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth,” could lead jurors to vote for death.

The justices ordered Robert Harlan to serve life in prison without parole for the 1994 slaying of Rhonda Maloney.

Harlan’s attorneys challenged the sentence after discovering five jurors had looked up Bible verses, copied some of them down and then talked about them behind closed doors.

Prosecutors said jurors should be allowed to refer to the Bible or other religious texts during deliberations.

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