Georgia faced steep hurdles in the U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday over its bid to retry a murder defendant after a state court vacated an earlier acquittal as invalid.

In a split verdict, a Georgia jury had acquitted Damian McElrath of malice murder for reason of insanity in the stabbing death of his adoptive mother, but found him guilty but mentally ill on separate charges for felony murder and aggravated assault based on the same underlying facts.