Supreme Court upholds death sentence for Arizona man

Supreme Court upholds death sentence for Arizona man
© Greg Nash

The Supreme Court in a 5-4 opinion on Tuesday upheld a death sentence for an Arizona man convicted of killing two people nearly three decades ago. 

The decision — which saw dissent from the court's four liberal justices, Ruth Bader GinsburgRuth Bader GinsburgGinsburg's personal trainer says she's working out amid the pandemic Supreme Court raises bar for racial discrimination claims in contracts Supreme Court rules states can eliminate insanity defense MORE, Stephen BreyerStephen BreyerSupreme Court rules states can eliminate insanity defense Supreme Court postpones oral arguments amid coronavirus pandemic Supreme Court will close to public amid coronavirus pandemic MORE, Sonia SotomayorSonia SotomayorOvernight Energy: Critics blast EPA move as 'license to pollute' during pandemic | Trump expected to roll back Obama mileage standards| Group plans to sue over rollback of water law Supreme Court rules Citgo responsible for 2004 oil spill Supreme Court rules states can eliminate insanity defense MORE and Elena KaganElena KaganSupreme Court rules states can eliminate insanity defense Key Democrat urges Supreme Court to livestream oral arguments Former public worker asks Supreme Court to force repayment of union dues MORE — denies James McKinney a new sentencing hearing following his 1992 conviction. 

Justice Brett KavanaughBrett Michael KavanaughCoronavirus isn't the only reason Congress should spend less time in DC Progressives urge Democrats to hear from federal judge deeply critical of Roberts, conservatives Trump Jr. says he inherited 'Tourette's of the thumbs' from his father MORE, who delivered the opinion of the conservative judges, rejected McKinney’s argument that the decision over whether he should serve a life sentence or face death should be made by a jury, not a judge. 


McKinney was convicted of two counts of first-degree murder after killing two people in a series of home burglaries.

Nearly 20 years after McKinney’s conviction, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit found that the Arizona courts had violated the law by failing to properly consider relevant mitigating evidence of McKinney's post traumatic stress disorder. 

His case returned to the Arizona Supreme Court and McKinney argued he is entitled to a jury sentencing, but the state Supreme Court upheld his death sentence. 

"According to McKinney, appellate courts may no longer reweigh aggravating and mitigating circumstances in determining whether to uphold a death sentence. McKinney is incorrect," Kavanaugh wrote.