Monday, June 1, 2009

Supreme Court Refuses to Hear Appeal of Death Penalty Case

The Supreme Court has refused to hear an appeal of a Missouri man sentenced to death for raping and murdering a 15 year old girl. Michael A. Taylor had been convicted of raping and murdering the 15 year old girl in 1989. Taylor had requested that a jury determine his sentence. Instead, his request was denied and a judge determine that several aggravating factors existed that warranted the imposition of the death penalty. This case raises some very important questions that remain unanswered by this decision. In 2002, the Supreme Court ruled that juries, not judges, should determine whether aggravating factors existed that would demand that the death penalty be imposed. In his appeal, Taylor was asking that the Missouri courts apply this principle and the Missouri courts had refused. The Supreme Court today refused to hear Taylor's appeal thereby leaving this issue undecided. If the Supreme Court has ruled that juries should determine if aggravating factors exist, then what does the denial of Taylor's appeal in this case mean to this rule?

The case is Taylor v. Missouri, 08-1084.

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