ARS 13-454(E)(2) Interpretation

In State v. Steelman, 126 Ariz. 19, 23-25, 612 P.2d 475, 479-81 (1980), the Arizona Supreme Court construed then-A.R.S. 13-454(E)(2), which provided for an aggravator in a death penalty case when "the defendant was previously convicted of a felony in the United States involving the use of threat of violence on another person." In Steelman, the "acts which served as the basis for the convictions were committed after" the murders at issue. 126 Ariz. at 23, 612 P.2d at 479. The court found that the use of prior convictions based on subsequent offenses was permissible, because "the statute makes no reference to when the acts underlying those convictions must have been committed." Id. at 25, 612 P.2d at 481. The version of A.R.S. 13-454(E)(2) relied upon in Steelman has been renumbered and slightly revised to provide in pertinent part as follows: "The defendant has been or was previously convicted of a serious offense, whether preparatory or completed." A.R.S. 13-703(F)(2) (Supp. 2007).