Crime and Punishment in Arizona

Man behind bars

People always have opposing views when it comes to the death penalty: Some think it is a cruel way to penalize a criminal, while some think that the punishment is appropriate for what they took away. In the state of Arizona, however, capital punishment has been a mainstay in the justice system since the first convict was executed for murder, which was way back in 1865.

Most Gruesome and Fascinating Cases

Some cases are particularly gruesome, and some that are morbidly fascinating when it comes to the death penalty and capital punishment. Take the case of Eva Dugan. She was a story of many firsts – the first woman to be executed by the State of Arizona, and the first case where women could bear witness to the execution. She was also one of the first to be decapitated upon drop. It was her case that convinced the local government to switch to a gas chamber and, later on, the lethal injection instead.

Another fascinating case was that of Walter LaGrand, a German national residing in the US. Walter LeGrand and his brother were charged and convicted of murdering a man and injuring a woman during a bank robbery. Records from the court reporters, however, showed that during the arrest of the brothers, neither were informed about their rights under the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations.

man wearing handcuffs

At that time, Arizona Governor Jane Dee Hull was adamant about executing both brothers – Walter died via gas chamber and his brother via lethal injection. The drama unfolded when the International Court of Justice was involved, with the said organization siding with Germany.

Another case was that of Mark Goudeau, who was born in Phoenix, AZ. He was responsible for the deaths of nine people and the sexual assault of two sisters, among others. Because of this, he was referred to as the Baseline Killer since he took all of his victims around the Baseline Road. All in all, he was sentenced to 438 years for 19 separate crimes, with nine death sentences, which were upheld by the court in 2016.

Determining the Capital Crime

Handing out the death penalty is a very serious matter. If the investigation was not done properly, there is a risk that the convicted person might not be the one responsible after all. It is because of this that certain processes are put in place. For example, if the initial proceedings result in a hung jury, a retrial happens using a different group of people for the jury. If the results are the same, the convicted felon is, instead, handed a life sentence. At all times, a death penalty may only be handed if the decision of the jury is unanimous. At the same time, the Governor can grant clemency but with the approval of the five-person Arizona Board of Executive Clemency.

At present, Arizona makes use of the lethal injection – one of the eight states that allow the death penalty. The list includes Georgia, Idaho, Texas, and Washington. Additionally, legal professionals today are now hiring court reporters in Phoenix, AZ, to help them with these cases. These provide on-site documentation of what’s happening during the court trial and ensures that controversial cases will leave something behind for posterity and criminal history.

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