Respondent, George Banks, was convicted of 12 counts of first-degree murder stemming from a series of shootings on September 25, 1982. During the penalty phase of his trial, the jury was instructed, in part:
"The sentence you impose will depend upon your findings concerning aggravating and mitigating circumstances. The Crime[s] Code in this Commonwealth provides that the verdict must be a sentence of death if the jury unanimously finds at least one aggravating circumstance and no mitigating circumstance, or if the jury unanimously finds one or more aggravating circumstances which outweigh any mitigating circumstance or circumstances." Commonwealth v. Banks, 540 Pa. 143, 150, 656 A. 2d 467, 470 (1995).
In relevant part, the verdict form required the jury to check a box indicating that "[w]e the jury have found unanimously" either "[a]t least one aggravating circumstance and no mitigating circumstances," or "[o]ne or more aggravating circumstances which outweigh any mitigating circumstance or circumstances." 271 F. 3d, at 549-550. The jury marked the latter box, and also checked two other boxes indicating the aggravating circumstance (multiple offenses punishable by at least life in prison) and mitigating circumstance (extreme mental or emotional disturbance) that it had found. Respondent was sentenced to death on each count of first-degree murder.
After respondent's direct appeal was denied, we decided Mills, in which we held that the Constitution prohibits a State from requiring jurors unanimously to agree that a particular mitigating circumstance exists before they are permitted to consider that circumstance in their sentencing determination. 486 U. S., at 374. Subsequently, in state postconviction proceedings, respondent raised a Mills challenge to the jury instructions and verdict forms in his case, arguing that they improperly "suggested to the jury that itsPage: Index Previous 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Next
Last modified: October 4, 2007