April 12, 2019

Arizona to Erase Some Possible Grounds for Death Sentences

The law gets rid of three of 14 so-called aggravating circumstances that may lead to a death sentence.

AZ Capitol Dome A view of downtown Phoenix from the top of the Capitol dome.
AZPM Staff

PHOENIX — Arizona is moving to tighten the state's law on capital punishment by eliminating three of the 14 so-called aggravating circumstances that can be the basis for imposing death sentences for convicted murderers.

Gov. Doug Ducey on Wednesday signed into law a bill overwhelmingly approved by the House and unanimously approved by the Senate.

The circumstances being eliminated include whether the defendant created a "grave risk of death" for another person in addition to the person killed.

The other two circumstances being eliminated are if the offense was committed in a "cold, calculated manner without pretense of moral or legal justification" and if the defendant used a stun gun in committing the murder.

Officials say the circumstances being eliminated have been used rarely.

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