Capital punishment in Arizona
In 1973, following the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Furman v. Georgia, the Arizona State Legislature enacted A.R.S. § 13–454, setting forth the state's procedures for death penalty cases. The statute provided for a separate sentencing hearing to be held before the trial court, rather than a jury, and enumerated six aggravating circumstances that could be considered in deciding whether to impose a death sentence. Between 1978 and 1993, the Legislature codified four additional aggravating circumstances.
The following aggravating circumstances constitute capital murder in the State of Arizona:
- prior conviction for which a sentence of life imprisonment or death was imposable;
- prior serious offense involving the use or threat of violence;
- grave risk of death to others;
- procurement of murder by payment or promise of payment;
- commission of murder for pecuniary gain;
- murder committed in an especially heinous, cruel, or depraved manner;
- murder committed while in custody;
- multiple homicides;
- murder of a victim under 15 years of age or of a victim 70 years of age or older; and
- murder of a law enforcement officer.
Method of execution
The method of execution employed in Arizona is lethal injection. However, if convicted for a crime committed prior to November 23, 1992, the inmate may choose between lethal gas or lethal injection.
Prosecutorial misconduct in death penalty cases
The Arizona Supreme Court reviews death penalty cases under a process known as "direct appeals." In a 2013 story, The Arizona Republic analyzed the court's findings in all 82 death penalty cases brought before it between 2002 and the present. According to the paper, the Arizona Supreme Court found that prosecutorial impropriety or misconduct had occurred in 16 of the 82 cases. The nature of the misconduct included eye-rolling, sarcasm, introducing false testimony, and failing to disclose exculpatory evidence. The report summarized the Court's findings, noting that, "Overwhelmingly, even when misconduct was found, the high court determined that it was 'harmless error,' the defendant would have been convicted anyway, or the judge had cured the problem by making a jury instruction." The paper added that some of the most severe instances of misconduct were not brought before the Arizona Supreme Court, because they had triggered mistrials or resulted in "a sweetheart plea deal."
- List of United States death row inmates
- Crime in Arizona
- List of people executed in Arizona
- List of wrongful convictions in the United States
- List of exonerated death row inmates
- Arizona - Capital Punishment - Death Penalty
- Methods of Execution
- Inmates Executed Since 1992. Arizona Department of Corrections.
- Kiefer, Michael (28 October 2013). "Prosecutorial misconduct alleged in half of capital cases". The Arizona Republic. Archived from the original on 18 November 2014. Retrieved 18 November 2014.