Capital Sentencing Guide

EMPLOYMENT / MILITARY

EMPLOYMENT HISTORY/MILITARY SERVICE

[This category consists of cases where the defendant argued his prior employment or military service was mitigating. See also good character section for prior good works.]

State v. Lambright, 138 Ariz. 63, 673 P.2d 1 (1983)
The Court simply recounted what evidence was presented to the trial court and then agreed with the result. The defendant presented evidence of his honorable discharge from the military in mitigation.

State v. Lavers, 168 Ariz. 376, 814 P.2d 333 (1991)
Without further discussion, the Court "accepted" the trial court's finding that the defendant's good military and employment record was a mitigating circumstance. The Court found that the cumulative weight of the mitigating circumstances was not sufficiently substantial to call for leniency.

*State v. Mickel Herrera, 174 Ariz. 387, 850 P.2d 100 (1993)
The defendant argued that the trial court failed to consider evidence establishing that the defendant had a good employment history. The Court disagreed, noting that although the trial judge did not specifically enumerate the defendant's employment records, the judge stated that he had considered all the mitigating circumstances raised by the defendant. The defendant's work history indicated he had been engaged in numerous manual labor jobs for short periods of time. The Court agreed that the defendant's claim of good employment history was not a mitigating circumstance sufficiently substantial to call for leniency.

State v. Michael Apelt, 176 Ariz. 349, 861 P.2d 634 (1993)
The Court agreed with the trial court that the defendant had not proven any mitigating factors sufficient to call for leniency or even why some factors should be considered mitigating at all without any further discussion.

State v. Styers, 177 Ariz. 104, 865 P.2d 765 (1993)
The defendant's service in Vietnam and his honorable discharge were relevant mitigating circumstances. After considering all the mitigating proffered by the defendant, the Court found it was not sufficiently substantial to warrant leniency.

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 in mitigation that he served in the United States Air Force and received an honorable discharge.

State v. Spears, 184 Ariz. 277, 908 P.2d 1062 (1996)
The testimony showed that the defendant was a reliable and hard worker, but was also unable to hold down a job for a significant amount of time. He was frequently unemployed. The defendant failed to prove that his employment history was entitled to some weight in mitigation. The defendant served two four-year enlistments in the military and received an honorable discharge. His military history is a mitigating circumstance, but is not sufficient to call for leniency.

State v. Roscoe (Roscoe II), 184 Ariz. 484, 910 P.2d 635 (1996)
The Court noted, without further discussion, that the trial court found Roscoe's employment history as a nonstatutory mitigating circumstance.

State v. Soto-Fong, 187 Ariz. 186, 928 P.2d 610 (1996)
The Court agreed with the trial court that the defendant was gainfully employed for at least some of the time that he was not in school. This was mitigating but did not justify leniency.

State v. Rogovich, 188 Ariz. 38, 932 P.2d 794 (1997)
The Court agreed with the trial court that the defendant had proven a good employment history. This, along with the other evidence offered in mitigation, was sufficient to call for leniency in the Manna murder, but not for the trailer park killings.

State v. Rienhardt, 190 Ariz. 579, 951 P.2d 454 (1997)
The Court found this mitigation insufficient to warrant leniency. The trial court found that the defendant had some history of employment as a mason prior to this murder.

State v. Greene, 192 Ariz. 431, 967 P.2d 106 (1998)
The Court rejected Greene's claim of leading a productive life as mitigating in this case. The Court noted that it has found mitigation where a defendant has been gainfully employed, and refused to find mitigation where a defendant was unable to hold a job for any significant period and was frequently unemployed. Greene was unemployed at the time of the murder and failed to provide evidence of gainful employment after he completed trade school five years earlier.

State v. Kayer, 194 Ariz. 423, 984 P.2d 31 (1999)
While military service can warrant consideration as a nonstatutory mitigating circumstance, the defendant here only served one year in the military before requesting release. The Court here agreed with the trial court that this record of military service was not a mitigating circumstance worthy of consideration.

State v. Ring, 200 Ariz. 1139, 25 P.3d 717 (2001)
The Court discounted the defendant’s one-year employment as a police officer because he was fired for insubordination when he refused to respond to a homicide scene in favor of engaging in a high-speed chase. The Court further discounted his employment as a corrections officer, bounty hunter and confidential informant because the defendant has abused his law-enforcement experience and contacts before and after the crimes – to plan and execute the murder, as well as to attempt to avoid capture.

State v. (Leroy D.) Cropper, 223 Ariz. 522, 225 P.3d 579 (2010)
The Court found Cropper had established this mitigator by a preponderance of the evidence because testimony detailed that both his father and stepmother abused him. However, it determined that childhood troubles deserve less weight in mitigation because Cropper was 33 years old when he committed the murder.

State v. (Alfredo Lucero) Garcia, 224 Ariz. 1, 226 P.3d 370 (2010)
Garcia established that he had a dysfunctional family background, including a drug and alcohol-addicted father who physically abused him, often terrorized his family and failed to financially support them. The Court gave this factor little weight because Garcia was 39 years old at the time of the murder and no evidence linked his childhood experiences to the murder. 

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