Attorney general wants SCOTUS to reinstate death penalty

October 27, 2015

Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller announced Tuesday that he is asking the Supreme Court of the United States to reinstate the death penalty for Tommy R. Pruitt, who was convicted in the 2001 murder of a Morgan County sheriff’s deputy.

The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals reversed Pruitt’s death sentence in June, which was previously upheld by the Indiana Supreme Court. The judges found that Pruitt established he is intellectually disabled and therefore ineligible for the death penalty.

Pruitt shot and killed Morgan County Deputy Sheriff Daniel Starnes during a traffic stop in June 2001.

If the U.S. Supreme Court declines to take the case, Pruitt will be resentenced on his murder conviction to a term of years in prison.

“Both pre-trial and on direct appeal, and again on both post-conviction review and post-conviction appeal, the state courts scrutinized the evidence and came to the conclusion that Pruitt was not ‘intellectually disabled.’ A federal district court agreed,” the state wrote in its petition for writ of certiorari. “Then, eleven-and-one-half years after the trial court sentenced Pruitt to death, the court of appeals reversed — not because the state courts had misstated the record, overlooked pertinent evidence, or denied Pruitt an opportunity to present his claim altogether. It reversed based on a view of competing evidence it deemed more reasonable.”

It is not yet known when the U.S. Supreme Court will conference to consider whether to hear the state’s appeal in this case.


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