BOISE, Idaho (AP) - The state of Idaho is arguing that a jury's finding of aggravating circumstances in a death penalty case meets a U.S. Supreme Court standard that juries must decide capital cases.
Arguing before the Idaho Supreme Court on Friday, deputy attorney general LaMont Anderson said that the jury in Darrell Payne's 2002 trial found the same aggravating circumstance needed for the death penalty as did Fourth District Judge Thomas Neville when he sentenced Payne to death.
Neville later set aside Payne's death sentence to comply with the Supreme Court's 2002 ruling.
Payne was convicted of the July 2000 rape and murder of Samantha Maher of Boise.
His defense lawyer, Paula Swenson of Idaho's public defender's office, told the justices that members of the jury weren't "death qualified" because they weren't questioned during jury selection about their feelings on the death penalty.
She says jury members also did not weigh mitigation evidence which might have persuaded them to spare Payne's life. That is now required under Idaho law.