U.S. Supreme Court To Hear Arizona Death Row Inmate's Case

By Mark Brodie
Associated Press
Published: Tuesday, December 10, 2019 - 1:08pm
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Arizona Department of Corrections
James Erin McKinney

The U.S. Supreme Court will hear an appeal Wednesday by an Arizona death row inmate who is seeking a new sentencing trial, arguing the horrific physical abuse that he suffered as a child wasn’t fully considered when he was first sentenced.

The appeal of James Erin McKinney could affect as many as 15 of Arizona's 104 death row inmates. Attorneys say the Arizona courts used an unconstitutional test in examining the mitigating factors considered during the sentencing trials of the inmates.

McKinney wants the Supreme Court to throw out his sentences in the 1991 killings of Christine Mertens and Jim McClain so that a jury can decide whether he should face death or life in prison. He was first sentenced to death by a judge.

Valena Beety, professor at Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law at Arizona State University and deputy director of the Academy for Justice, joined The Show on Tuesday to talk about the case.

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