WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court won’t hear Arizona’s appeal of a lower court ruling that overturned a convicted murderer’s death sentence and opened the door for other death row inmates in the state to challenge their sentences.
The justices on Monday let stand the ruling that said Arizona unconstitutionally excluded evidence about James McKinney’s troubled childhood and post-traumatic stress disorder that might have led to a lesser punishment. McKinney was convicted of first degree murder and sentenced to death in 1993.
From 1989 to 2005, Arizona’s highest court allowed leniency factors to be considered only if they were directly related to the crime committed.
A divided 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled last year that Arizona’s “causal nexus” test violated the Constitution. The state court abandoned the test in 2005.