Double murderer must be resentenced
By A.J. FLICK
A Tucson man convicted of two murders will have to be resentenced in the wake of a state Supreme Court ruling yesterday.
The Arizona Supreme Court affirmed the convictions of Robert Joe Moody, but vacated his death sentences because of a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that a jury might find more reasons to choose a life sentence over execution than a judge would.
Moody was convicted and sentenced to death for killing Michelle Malone and Patricia Magda in Tucson in 1993.
In asking for the convictions to be overturned, Frank P. Leto of the Pima County Public Defenders Office made a variety of claims including prosecutorial misconduct, errors by Pima County Superior Court Judge Michael Cruikshank and double jeopardy rules.
In a 125-page unanimous ruling, the justices rejected each argument.
Before a person can be sentenced to death, certain factors must be proven, a job once entrusted to judges but now in jurors’ hands.
In Moody’s case, the justices said two factors raised – financial gain and murders committed in an especially cruel manner – might not have been found or might have been given less weight by a jury.
Prosecutors reject offer from killer
By A.J. FLICK
Prosecutors have rejected an offer from a convicted killer to plead guilty to new charges if they do not seek the death penalty at his resentencing, his attorney says.
Joseph St. Louis, who represents Keith Royal Phillips, said a panel at the Pima County Attorneys Office discussed the offer for an hour and a half yesterday before deciding to proceed with a resentencing trial.
“If they want a trial, they’re going to get a trial,” said St. Louis, who said evidence proves Phillips’s co-defendant was the killer.
The County Attorney’s Office cannot comment about matters discussed outside of court, said spokesman Dan Benavidez.
Phillips, 26, and Marcus Lasalle Finch, 34, were convicted of 48 crimes for three 1998 robberies in which Kevin Hendricks was killed and four people were seriously wounded.
Their death sentences were overturned after a 2002 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that juries, not judges, must decide capital sentences.
While awaiting resentencing, Phillips and four other jail inmates were charged in an alleged white supremacy ring.