Sharp County death penalty reversed by Arkansas Supreme Court | Arkansas Blog

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Sharp County death penalty reversed by Arkansas Supreme Court

Posted By on Thu, Jun 9, 2016 at 9:45 AM

STEVEN WERTZ: Death penalty reversed.
  • STEVEN WERTZ: Death penalty reversed.
The Arkansas Supreme Court today reversed the death sentence of Steven Wertz, convicted in 2007 of the 1986 slaying of  Kathy and Terry Watts of Ash Flat. Terry Watts was then in a custody dispute with Wertz's then-wife.

The court ordered a new sentencing because the jury had been given incorrect verdict forms.

State law requires a jury to complete three forms in addition to verdict: 1) about aggravating factors beyond reasonable doubt; 2) mitigating factors; 3) whether aggravating circumstances outweigh mitigating circumstances sufficiently to impose a death penalty.

In this case, the jury was given a single set of the forms to cover the two individual guilty verdicts in the couple's deaths and it found aggravating factors sufficient to warrant a death sentence.

The court said it found merit in Wertz's argument that the combined forms denied him "the
individualized sentencing and protection from invalid aggravating circumstances required
under the Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution." The majority opinion by Justice Robin Wynne said:

 the submission of a single set of verdict forms makes it impossible to determine whether the jury applied the aggravator to Terry's murder, Kathy's murder, or both murders
The U.S. Supreme Court requires, the opinion noted, that death penalty case outcomes be "especially reliable."

Justices Paul Danielson and Rhonda Wood dissented. 



Tags: , , ,


Favorite

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

  • Jerry Dhonau, former Gazette editorial page editor, dies at 83

    Jerry Dhonau, a retired newspaperman whose career included reporting on the Little Rock school crisis and being editorial page editor of the Arkansas Gazette when it closed in 1991, has died. Ernest Dumas provides his colleague’s obituary.
    • Aug 18, 2018
  • DHS confirms it's withholding personnel records on Leslie Rutledge

    Chris Burks, the lawyer in a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit seeking personnel records of Attorney General Leslie Rutledge when she was a staff lawyer at the Department of Human Services, says DHS confirms the existence of records that have not been released in previous examinations of her record there.
    • Aug 18, 2018
  • Death reported in Malvern prison

    The Correction Department is reporting what it calls an apparent suicide Thursday evening in the Ouachita River Correction unit in Malvern.
    • Aug 18, 2018
  • More »

Readers also liked…

  • Your daily dose of Jason Rapert

    Sen. Jason Rapert really, really didn't like it when a KATV reporter asked him about the hypocrisy of his political arguments.
    • Feb 4, 2017
  • Tom Cotton's influence on Trump's new security chief

    U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton is getting credit for pushing President Donald Trump to select Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster as his national security adviser, Politico reports.
    • Feb 21, 2017
  • Campus gun bill clears committee

    The so-called compromise amendment that will allow anyone 25 or older with a training certificate carry a concealed weapon on public college campuses was approved in a Senate committee this afternoon.
    • Feb 21, 2017

Most Viewed

  • DHS confirms it's withholding personnel records on Leslie Rutledge

    Chris Burks, the lawyer in a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit seeking personnel records of Attorney General Leslie Rutledge when she was a staff lawyer at the Department of Human Services, says DHS confirms the existence of records that have not been released in previous examinations of her record there.
  • Jerry Dhonau, former Gazette editorial page editor, dies at 83

    Jerry Dhonau, a retired newspaperman whose career included reporting on the Little Rock school crisis and being editorial page editor of the Arkansas Gazette when it closed in 1991, has died. Ernest Dumas provides his colleague’s obituary.

Most Recent Comments

Slideshows

 

© 2018 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation