Supreme Court Shocker

( – Shocking many pro-death penalty conservatives who expected a different outcome from the United States Supreme Court, the Court just ruled that a man sentenced to death in Arizona should be resentenced because the jurors were allegedly misled about whether he could ever be released from prison.

The ruling reveals that the jurors were wrongly told that giving John Montenegro Cruz a death sentence was the only way to guarantee that he would never walk free, Newsmax reported.

The Supreme Court ruling, in an opinion by liberal Justice Sonia Sotomayor, was approved in a 5-4 decision that Cruz should be granted a new penalty phase of his trial.

As per the ruling in Cruz v. Arizona, 21-846, during the renewed phase, the jurors should be made aware that the man would not be eligible for parole if he were to receive a “life in prison” sentence instead of a death penalty.

The report points out that the Supreme Court’s ruling in Cruz’s case also matters for other death row inmates in Arizona whose juries were also misinformed about his parole eligibility.

There are about 100 inmates on death row in Arizona. Still, it was not immediately clear how many could become eligible for new sentencing phases in their trials because of the US Supreme Court ruling.

Cruz had argued that the jurors in his trial should have been told he would never be granted parole if he was sent to prison for life.

Before his case made it to the highest court in the nation, his request for a new sentencing phase had been rejected by an Arizona judge, and the state had said he had failed to make appropriate requests under existing Supreme Court rulings.

At least one juror in Cruz’s trial has said that had she been aware that a “life sentence without parole” was an alternative to death, she “would have voted for that option.”

Cruz has been sentenced to death because, in 2003, he murdered a police officer in Tucson, Arizona, Patrick Hardesty.

During a hit-and-run investigation, Hardesty and another officer came to Cruz, who tried to escape and shot the former five times.

In 1994, in Simmons v. South Carolina, the US Supreme Court ruled that in some instances carrying the death penalty, the jury must be told that if a life sentence was chosen as an alternative to a death sentence, the former meant “life without the possibility of parole.”

Such a requirement refers to cases in which the prosecution insists that the defendant would be a threat to society once released.

In a similar ruling in 2016, in Lynch v. Arizona, the US Supreme Court told the state it had to comply with the precedent in Simmons v. South Carolina.

Cruz, however, says Arizona has refused to comply with both rulings.

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