Lawyers challenge death penalty with AZ case

An Arizona lawsuit could challenge the future of the death penalty across the nation.

PHOENIX - Attorneys for convicted murderer Abel Hidalgo want the U.S. Supreme Court to use his case to decide the future of the death penalty in the United States.

Hidalgo's attorneys filed a motion for the Supreme Court to consider his case challenging not only Arizona law, but the constitutionality of the death penalty.

Hidalgo is on death row for killing two people in an auto body shop in 2001. He was already serving life in prison for two other murders in Idaho when he was convicted of the Arizona crimes. 

But Hidalgo's attorneys are challenging Arizona's death penalty law, claiming that it's too broad and applies to too many defendants. They said the Supreme Court held that the death penalty should be used against the worst of the worst, but Arizona has 14 aggravating factors that qualify a case for the death penalty. 

The attorneys said they examined 200 murder cases in Arizona and found all but 10 of them could have been tried as death penalty cases. 

The motion to go before the U.S. Supreme Court also asks the Court to decide on the constitutionality of the death penalty, separate from the Arizona claims. 

The Supreme Court has until June to decide to hear the case on one or both of those claims. 

© 2017 KPNX-TV


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