How a judge in Arizona lost his bid to stop the execution of a prisoner who committed murder in the 1980s
By: Brian C. Johnson, Reuters/AP Writer The death sentence in Arizona for a man convicted of murdering a sheriff’s deputy has been upheld by a federal appeals court.
A three-judge panel of the US Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit in San Francisco said Thursday that Arizona’s conviction is constitutional.
The three-member panel unanimously agreed with a lower court that Arizona has a compelling interest in executing the inmate, and said it did not consider the constitutional merits of his claims against the state.
The panel also said the prisoner, James Wilson, has a “substantial” chance of appealing.
A lawyer for Wilson said the appeals court’s decision “should be taken as a signal to the remaining states that they need not seek review in this regard.”
Wilson was convicted in 1980 of murdering James Daugherty, who was shot and killed in front of his son in Arizona.
The inmate claimed he acted in self-defense.
The court also rejected arguments from the inmate’s lawyers that the judge in the case had improperly excluded Wilson’s family members from the jury pool, which meant that the death penalty could not be used as a means of sentencing Wilson.
The case is one of several in which a defendant who is innocent is executed.
The death penalty is a capital punishment option in Arizona, though it is rare.
Wilson was executed in August, but it was not immediately clear whether the judge’s decision was a factor in his death.
The Arizona Supreme Court had ruled in August that the inmate was entitled to a jury trial.
The judge in that case also ruled that Wilson had a substantial chance of succeeding on appeal, but the appeals panel said that the state did not have to provide evidence to back that assertion up.
In that case, the judge ruled that it would not be a miscarriage of justice to order Wilson’s execution.