Ring v. Arizona, 536 U.S. 584, 12 (2002)

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Cite as: 536 U. S. 584 (2002)

Opinion of the Court

of "pecuniary value," as described in 13-703; "[t]aking the cash from the armored car was the motive and reason for Mr. Magoch's murder and not just the result." App. to Pet. for Cert. 49a. Second, the judge found that the offense was committed "in an especially heinous, cruel or depraved manner." Ibid. In support of this finding, he cited Ring's comment, as reported by Greenham at the sentencing hearing, expressing pride in his marksmanship. Id., at 49a-50a. The judge found one nonstatutory mitigating factor: Ring's "minimal" criminal record. Id., at 52a. In his judgment, that mitigating circumstance did not "call for leniency"; he therefore sentenced Ring to death. Id., at 53a.

On appeal, Ring argued that Arizona's capital sentencing scheme violates the Sixth and Fourteenth Amendments to the U. S. Constitution because it entrusts to a judge the finding of a fact raising the defendant's maximum penalty. See Jones v. United States, 526 U. S. 227 (1999); Apprendi v. New Jersey, 530 U. S. 466 (2000). The State, in response, noted that this Court had upheld Arizona's system in Walton v. Arizona, 497 U. S. 639 (1990), and had stated in Apprendi that Walton remained good law.

Reviewing the death sentence, the Arizona Supreme Court made two preliminary observations. Apprendi and Jones, the Arizona high court said, "raise some question about the continued viability of Walton." 200 Ariz., at 278, 25 P. 3d, at 1150. The court then examined the Apprendi majority's interpretation of Arizona law and found it wanting. Apprendi, the Arizona court noted, described Arizona's sentencing system as one that " 'requir[es] judges, after a jury verdict holding a defendant guilty of a capital crime, to find specific aggravating factors before imposing a sentence of death,' and not as a system that 'permits a judge to determine the existence of a factor which makes a crime a capital offense.' " 200 Ariz., at 279, 25 P. 3d, at 1151 (quoting Apprendi, 530 U. S., at 496-497). Justice O'Connor's Apprendi dissent, the Arizona court noted, squarely rejected


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