A federal judge has overturned the death penalty for a man convicted of killing a Southern California housewife because the prosecutor implied it was God's will to execute him.

The San Diego Union-Tribune says the judge ruled last week that the prosecutor engaged in misconduct during the penalty phase of Rudolph Roybal's trial.

Roybal was convicted of beating and stabbing 65-year-old Yvonne Weden in 1989 after she fired him from a gardening job.

The judge said the prosecutor made repeated and inflammatory references to the Bible's murder penalty instead of referencing evidence and the law. He ordered the San Diego County district attorney's office to either grant Roybal a new penalty trial or sentence him to life without chance of parole.

The office says it's reviewing the ruling.