(Booking photo)

A federal judge has ordered a former elementary school teacher who hacked her husband to death with a hatchet in their suburban Detroit home to have a new trial or be released from prison.

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The Oakland Press of Pontiac reports Judge Bernard Friedman said “prosecution did not present overwhelming evidence” that Nancy Seaman was guilty of first-degree premeditated murder.

Seaman of Farmington Hills was found guilty by a jury in the 2004 Mother’s Day slaying of Robert Seaman.

Seaman claimed self-defense, saying she suffered from battered-woman syndrome. She appealed on several issues including ineffective counsel, prosecutorial misconduct, and misleading jury instructions

Friedman’s order says unless there is a new trial scheduled within 120 days, she must be released from jail.

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WWJ spoke Thursday with Seaman’s attorney, Richard Ginsburg, who explained the order.

“The issue is actually not an uncommon issue — Battered Spouse Syndrom, and battered women who kill their husbands,” Ginsburg said.

“In this particular case, it was a matter of how that defense was presented to the jury. And, the federal judge found that it was not presented adequatly, so the jury never had the opportunity to fully consider that defense in decising whethere she was guilty of the charge or not,” he said.

Prosecutors said Seaman took elaborate steps to cover up her crime including wrapping the body in a tarp, painting walls and bleaching the garage floor where the killing took place.

Seaman is in prison serving life without parole.

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© MMX WWJ Radio, All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to his report.