Capital punishment in Arizona

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Capital punishment is legal 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.

Capital crimes[edit]

The following aggravating circumstances constitute capital murder in the State of Arizona:[1]

  1. prior conviction for which a sentence of life imprisonment or death was imposable;
  2. prior serious offense involving the use or threat of violence;
  3. grave risk of death to others;
  4. procurement of murder by payment or promise of payment;
  5. commission of murder for pecuniary gain;
  6. murder committed in an especially heinous, cruel, or depraved manner;
  7. murder committed while in custody;
  8. multiple homicides;
  9. murder of a victim under 15 years of age or of a victim 70 years of age or older; and
  10. murder of a law enforcement officer.

Method of execution[edit]

The method of execution employed in Arizona is lethal injection.[2] However, if convicted for a crime committed prior to November 23, 1992, the inmate may choose between lethal gas or lethal injection.[3]

Death row[edit]

Arizona's death row for males is located at the Arizona State Prison Complex – Eyman in Florence. Female death row prisoners are housed at the Arizona State Prison Complex – Perryville in Goodyear.


Since capital punishment was resumed in 1976, 37 individuals in Arizona were convicted of murder and have been executed at Florence State Prison in Florence, Arizona.[4]

Prosecutorial misconduct in death penalty cases[edit]

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."[5]

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