State v. Canion

In State v. Canion, 199 Ariz. 227, 16 P.3d 788 (App. 2000), the defendant was charged with first-degree felony murder and first-degree premeditated murder. 199 Ariz. at 229,5, 16 P.3d at 790. A jury convicted him of felony murder and second-degree murder as a lesser-included offense of premeditated murder. Id. at 229-30,6-7, 16 P.3d at 790-91. The trial court determined that the convictions "merged" and therefore sentenced the defendant only on the greater offense, felony murder. Id. at 230,8, 16 P.3d at 791. On appeal, the Court construed one of the defendant's arguments as asserting it was "improper to allow the jury to render guilty verdicts on both felony murder and second-degree murder of the same victim, and that such verdicts require a retrial." Id. at 231,15, 16 P.3d at 792. The Court found that a retrial was not necessary, explaining that the jury's verdicts for felony murder and second-degree murder were not inconsistent because the State had proven the elements of both crimes. Id. at 232,20, 16 P.3d at 793. The Court also explained, however, that the result of the crimes was the death of one person for "which the trial court refused, and prudently so, to impose multiple sentences." Id. The Court then concluded that "because the better procedure would have been to simply vacate the second-degree murder conviction, as opposed to 'merging' the two convictions, the Court vacated the defendant's second-degree murder conviction." Id.