Arizona Supreme Court upholds death penalty law

Abel Hidalgo (file)
Abel Hidalgo (file)

PHOENIX (AP) - The Arizona Supreme Court has rejected a broad challenge to the state's death penalty law, rejecting arguments that it allows too many possible grounds to apply capital punishment to individual defendants.

The justices' unanimous ruling Wednesday upholds two murder convictions and death sentences of Abel Daniel Hidalgo, who already faces life sentences for two Idaho killings.

Defense lawyers for Hidalgo and other murder defendants had argued that in trial court that Arizona's death penalty law doesn't sufficiently narrow eligibility for the death penalty.

Hidalgo pleaded guilty in the January 2001 contract killing of Phoenix auto-body shop owner Michael Cordova and the killing of upholsterer Jose Rojas, a potential witness. Jurors then sentenced him to death.

Hidalgo pleaded guilty in federal court in Idaho to the 2002 killings of two Shoshone-Bannock women, 21-year-old Leigha Tacunan and 42-year-old Margaret Fellows.


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