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Wyoming - First-degree murder with 15 Aggravating Circumstances
6-2-101 and 6-2-102


6-2-101. Murder in the first degree; penalty.

(a) Whoever purposely and with premeditated malice, or in the perpetration of, or attempt to perpetrate, any sexual assault, sexual abuse of a minor, arson, robbery, burglary, escape, resisting arrest, kidnapping or abuse of a child under the age of sixteen (16) years, kills any human being is guilty of murder in the first degree.

(b) A person convicted of murder in the first degree shall be punished by death, life imprisonment without parole or life imprisonment according to law, except that no person shall be subject to the penalty of death for any murder committed before the defendant attained the age of eighteen (18) years.

(c) A person convicted of murder in the first degree in a case in which the state seeks the death penalty shall be sentenced in accordance with the provisions of W.S. 6-2-102. In all other cases, including any case in which the state has determined not to seek the death penalty at any stage of the proceeding, the judge shall determine the sentence of life imprisonment without parole or life imprisonment taking into consideration any negotiated plea agreement and any evidence relevant to a determination of sentence which the court deems to have probative value.


6-2-102.Presentence hearing for murder in the first degree; mitigating and aggravating circumstances; effect of error in hearing.

(a) Upon conviction of a person for murder in the first degree in a case in which the state seeks the death penalty, the judge shall conduct a separate sentencing hearing to determine whether the defendant should be sentenced to death, life imprisonment without parole or life imprisonment. The hearing shall be conducted before the judge alone if:

      (i) The defendant was convicted by a judge sitting without a jury;

      (ii) The defendant has pled guilty; or

      (iii) The defendant waives a jury with respect to the sentence.

(b) In all other cases the sentencing hearing shall be conducted before the jury which determined the defendant's guilt or, if the judge for good cause shown discharges that jury, with a new jury impaneled for that purpose. The jury shall be instructed that if the jury does not unanimously determine that the defendant should be sentenced to death, then the defendant shall be sentenced to life imprisonment without parole or life imprisonment.

(c) The judge or jury shall hear evidence as to any matter that the court deems relevant to a determination of the sentence, and shall include matters relating to any of the aggravating or mitigating circumstances enumerated in subsections (h) and (j) of this section. Any evidence which the court deems to have probative value may be received regardless of its admissibility under the exclusionary rules of evidence, provided the defendant is accorded a fair opportunity to rebut any hearsay statements, and provided further that only such evidence in aggravation as the state has made known to the defendant or his counsel prior to his trial shall be admissible.

(d) Upon conclusion of the evidence and arguments the judge shall give the jury appropriate instructions, including instructions as to any aggravating or mitigating circumstances, as defined in subsections (h) and (j) of this section, or proceed as provided by paragraph (iii) of this subsection:

      (i) After hearing all the evidence, the jury shall deliberate and render a sentence based upon the following:

            (A) Whether one (1) or more aggravating circumstances exist beyond a reasonable doubt as set forth in subsection (h) of this section;

            (B) Whether, by a preponderance of the evidence, mitigating circumstances exist as set forth in subsection (j) of this section; and

            (C) The mere number of aggravating or mitigating circumstances found shall have no independent significance.

      (ii) The jury shall consider aggravating and mitigating circumstances unanimously found to exist, and each individual juror may also consider any mitigating circumstances found by that juror to exist. If the jury reports unanimous agreement to impose the sentence of death, the court shall discharge the jury and shall impose the sentence of death. If the jury is unable to reach a unanimous verdict imposing the sentence of death within a reasonable time, the court shall instruct the jury to determine by a unanimous vote whether the penalty of life imprisonment without parole shall be imposed. If the jury is unable to reach a unanimous verdict imposing the penalty of life imprisonment without parole within a reasonable time, the court shall discharge the jury and impose the sentence of life imprisonment;

      (iii) In nonjury cases, the judge shall determine if any aggravating or mitigating circumstances exist and impose sentence within the limits prescribed by law, based upon the considerations enumerated in subparagraphs (A), (B) and (C) of paragraph (i) of this subsection.

(e) The death penalty shall not be imposed unless at least one (1) of the aggravating circumstances set forth in subsection (h) of this section is found. In nonjury cases the judge shall make such designation. The jury, if its verdict is a sentence of death, shall designate in writing signed by the foreman of the jury:

      (i) The aggravating circumstance or circumstances which it unanimously found beyond a reasonable doubt;

      (ii) The mitigating circumstance or circumstances which it unanimously found by a preponderance of the evidence; and

      (iii) The mitigating circumstance or circumstances which any individual juror found by a preponderance of the evidence.

(f) Repealed By Laws 2001, Ch. 96, 3.

(g) If the trial court is reversed on appeal because of error only in the presentence hearing, the new trial which may be ordered shall apply only to the issue of punishment.

(h) Aggravating circumstances are limited to the following:

      (i) The murder was committed by a person:

            (A) Confined in a jail or correctional facility;

            (B) On parole or on probation for a felony;

            (C) After escaping detention or incarceration; or

            (D) Released on bail pending appeal of his conviction.

      (ii) The defendant was previously convicted of another murder in the first degree or a felony involving the use or threat of violence to the person;

      (iii) The defendant knowingly created a great risk of death to two (2) or more persons;

      (iv) The murder was committed while the defendant was engaged, or was an accomplice, in the commission of, or an attempt to commit, or flight after committing or attempting to commit, any aircraft piracy or the unlawful throwing, placing or discharging of a destructive device or bomb;

      (v) The murder was committed for the purpose of avoiding or preventing a lawful arrest or effecting an escape from custody;

      (vi) The murder was committed for compensation, the collection of insurance benefits or other similar pecuniary gain;

      (vii) The murder was especially atrocious or cruel, being unnecessarily torturous to the victim;

      (viii) The murder of a judicial officer, former judicial officer, district attorney, former district attorney, defending attorney, peace officer, juror or witness, during or because of the exercise of his official duty or because of the victim's former or present official status;

      (ix) The defendant knew or reasonably should have known the victim was less than seventeen (17) years of age or older than sixty-five (65) years of age;

      (x) The defendant knew or reasonably should have known the victim was especially vulnerable due to significant mental or physical disability;

      (xi) The defendant poses a substantial and continuing threat of future dangerousness or is likely to commit continued acts of criminal violence;

      (xii) The defendant killed another human being purposely and with premeditated malice and while engaged in, or as an accomplice in the commission of, or an attempt to commit, or flight after committing or attempting to commit, any robbery, sexual assault, arson, burglary, kidnapping or abuse of a child under the age of sixteen (16) years.

(j) Mitigating circumstances shall include the following:

      (i) The defendant has no significant history of prior criminal activity;

      (ii) The murder was committed while the defendant was under the influence of extreme mental or emotional disturbance;

      (iii) The victim was a participant in the defendant's conduct or consented to the act;

      (iv) The defendant was an accomplice in a murder committed by another person and his participation in the homicidal act was relatively minor;

      (v) The defendant acted under extreme duress or under the substantial domination of another person;

      (vi) The capacity of the defendant to appreciate the criminality of his conduct or to conform his conduct to the requirements of law was substantially impaired;

      (vii) The age of the defendant at the time of the crime;

      (viii) Any other fact or circumstance of the defendant's character or prior record or matter surrounding his offense which serves to mitigate his culpability.


Source: Wyoming Legislature, "Wyoming State Statutes," www.legisweb.state.wy.us (accessed Aug. 20, 2012)