[This category contains cases concerning the defendant's low intelligence and lack of education. Above average intelligence has been held not mitigating. See State v. Kayer.]
State v. Arnett (Arnett II), 125 Ariz. 201, 608 P.2d 778 (1980)
The trial judge noted the defendant's lack of education hindered the defendant's ability to conform to society. This may have lead to his sexually deviant behavior, prior conviction, and alcoholism, but was not sufficiently substantial to call for leniency for this murder conviction. The Court agreed with this assessment.
State v. Bishop (Bishop II), 127 Ariz. 531, 622 P.2d 478 (1981)
This mitigation was not of sufficient weight to justify leniency. The defendant has a sixth grade education and is below average in intelligence. Despite these handicaps, the defendant has functioned well in society. This was not a factor in the murder.
State v. Ortiz, 131 Ariz. 195, 639 P.2d 1020 (1982)
The trial court found the defendant's intelligence as a "possible" mitigating circumstance, but concluded that this factor, which might ordinarily constitute a mitigating circumstance, was not because the court learned from the trial and the testimony of the defendant's wife that he was "an adulterer, a violent wife beater, and a liar." The defendant argued on appeal that the trial court erred in not finding the mitigating circumstances proffered by the defendant. The Court concluded, "whatever mitigation evidence appellant offered, it was not sufficiently substantial to call for leniency."
State v. Robert Smith, 138 Ariz. 79, 673 P.2d 17 (1983)
Although the statutory (G)(1) mitigating circumstance of significant impairment was not established, the Court did "take notice" that Smith had low intelligence - an I.Q. of seventy-one, or approximately at the second percentile. After considering all the mitigation presented, the Court found the cumulative mitigation "significant," but not sufficiently substantial to call for leniency in light of the extreme cruelty and brutality of the crime.
State v. Hensley (Hensley II), 142 Ariz. 598, 691 P.2d 689 (1984)
After noting that the trial court found it mitigating that defendant had obtained a GED degree, the Court found that "the mitigation offered by appellant is not sufficiently substantial to outweigh the aggravating circumstances."
State v. Amaya-Ruiz, 166 Ariz. 152, 800 P.2d 1260 (1990)
The Court listed several mitigating circumstances, including the defendant's limited intelligence and formal education, which the trial court considered but found insufficient to call for leniency. With no further discussion, the Court noted that these claims have been held insufficient to merit leniency in other cases.
State v. Greenway, 170 Ariz. 155, 823 P.2d 22 (1991)
The defendant argued that his I.Q. of 72 made him mentally retarded and unable to realize what he was doing. The Court disagreed. The defendant's expert testified that the defendant was borderline functional, and not mentally retarded. The expert stated that persons with an I.Q. of 72 can function in society and that the defendant was able to make judgments with limited impairment. The defendant's former manager indicated that the defendant was able to supervise other people, was a responsible person, and handled problems without any irrational behavior. This was not a slow, dull, retarded individual, but a person who planned two weeks in advance to rob the victims and carried out his plan. The Court would not accept the defendant's argument that because he lacked criminal sophistication and was inept at committing this crime that his sentence should be reduced. The Court has never held that a court should look at the crime itself to determine if it was carried out with criminal sophistication as part of the sentencing process. The defendant's I.Q. was neither significant enough to quality as a mitigating factor, nor sufficiently substantial to call for leniency. The Court distinguished Jimenez because despite similar ages and I.Q. levels, that defendant also had hallucinations and delusions.
State v. West, 176 Ariz. 432, 862 P.2d 192 (1993)
The defendant argued that he had trouble in school, possibly had a learning disability, and only completed nine years of education. In reviewing this evidence, the Court found "no showing at all" that the defendant did not know the difference between right and wrong or could not conform his conduct to the dictates of the law in order to establish the (G)(1) statutory mitigating circumstance. Nor did "the evidence on these subjects show any nonstatutory mitigation."
State v. Ramirez, 178 Ariz. 116, 871 P.2d 237 (1994)
The defendant argued his poor educational experience in mitigation. The Court noted that the trial court correctly found this to be a nonstatutory mitigating factor, but did not discuss it.
State v. Maturana, 180 Ariz. 126, 882 P.2d 933 (1994)
The Court adopted the findings of the trial court that the defendant failed to prove this nonstatutory mitigating circumstance. The defendant argued that he had an average to low average I.Q. and only obtained a tenth grade education.
State v. Roger and Robert Murray, 184 Ariz. 9, 906 P.2d 542 (1995)
Roger dropped out of high school, but he later received his diploma and became a paralegal. The Court noted that "obviously, such accomplishments did not prevent the terrible crimes in this case." It is unclear how much weight, if any, the Court gave this evidence.
State v. Miller, 186 Ariz. 314, 921 P.2d 1151 (1996)
Miller argued that the trial court failed to consider specific instances of nonstatutory mitigation, including his low intelligence, which he raised for the first time on appeal. But the trial court said that it had considered all statutory and nonstatutory mitigation, including mitigation that Miller did not offer. Moreover, this alleged mitigating factor was not supported by the record.
State v. Henry (Henry II), 189 Ariz. 542, 944 P.2d 57 (1997)
Henry claimed that the trial judge failed to consider intelligence and education as mitigating factors because the judge believed they could never qualify as such. That was not an accurate representation of the record. The trial court stated that it would be "totally incomprehensible to find [intelligence and education] as a mitigating factor in this case …" The Court agreed, noting that Henry frequently used his intelligence for the purpose of deception. He gave police a false name to avoid being connected to an outstanding warrant and lied about events surrounding the murder to conceal his involvement. The Court saw "no reason to reward an individual who uses his education and intelligence in duplicitous ways."
State v. Rienhardt, 190 Ariz. 579, 951 P.2d 454 (1997)
The Court dismissed the defendant's low intelligence as mitigation without discussion.
State v. Greene, 192 Ariz. 431, 967 P.2d 106 (1998)
Greene received his GED in 1985 and a degree from the Motorcycle Mechanics Institute in 1989, specializing in Harley-Davidson repair. Although the Court found this educational achievement to be "slightly mitigating," it was not sufficiently substantial to overcome the aggravator of pecuniary gain.
State v. Doerr, 193 Ariz. 56, 969 P.2d 1168 (1998)
The defendant's I.Q. was 80, at the low end of low average. Two experts testified that this would not have affected the defendant's ability to know right from wrong. The defendant had a decent job and worked hard. The record shows no connection between his intelligence level and the murder.
State v. Kayer, 194 Ariz. 423, 984 P.2d 31 (1999)
Intelligence is generally considered along with age as a mitigating circumstance. The cases that have evaluated intelligence independently have concluded that it is not a mitigating factor where there is evidence that the defendant is intelligent. The Court cited Henry and Atwood for this conclusion. Low intelligence can be a mitigating factor. The Court agreed with the trial court that the defendant's relatively high intelligence was not a mitigating factor.
State v. (Frank Winfield) Anderson, 210 Ariz. 327, 111P.3d 639 ( 2005) Jury Trial/Indep. Review
While there was evidence that Anderson’s I.Q. was below average and that he did not have a leader-type personality, this was accorded very little weight, since Anderson was “not mentally retarded, unable to make his own decisions, or lacking in the capacity to judge right from wrong.”
*State v. (Shawn Ryan)Grell (Grell III) , 231 Ariz. 153, 291 P.3d 350 (2013)
The Court independently reviewed the mitigating circumstances and found Grell had proven that he is intellectually disabled. The Court vacated the death sentence and resentenced Grell to life. Although the trial court had determined pretrial that Grell had failed to establish by clear and convincing evidence that he was intellectually disabled, the Court reviewed the evidence under the lower standard of preponderance because Grell presented it as mitigation in the penalty phase. See A.R.S. § 13-751(C)(establishing defendant’s penalty phase burden of proof as preponderance of the evidence). The Court applied the Arizona statutory definition, easily found that the first and third prongs had been satisfied and most particularly scrutinized the second prong, “significant impairment in adaptive behavior.” Utilizing the lower standard of proof coupled with the “substantially more – and more convincing – evidence of adaptive skills deficits [presented] in his 2009 resentencing hearing that he presented in 2005,” and the fact that “Grell convincingly rebutted the State’s case in a way that he did not do in 2005,” the Court held that Grell had significant adaptive skill deficits.
Cases where the death sentence was reduced have been marked with an *.
Continue to Life Sentence Available | Back to Top