State v. Lacy
In State v. Lacy (Ariz. 1996) 929 P.2d 1288, two women were found dead in an apartment. One woman had been shot three times and received a blunt force injury to her head and scratches on her arm. The other woman had been shot twice, once in the face and once in the back of the head. (Lacy, supra, 929 P.2d at pp. 1292-1293.)
The defendant later gave a statement to police implicating himself and a man named Stubblefield in the killings. However, the defendant claimed Stubblefield alone had killed the women while the defendant tried to get him to depart.
The defendant eventually grabbed a microwave and ran out the door of the apartment. Stubblefield later picked him up and took him home. The two men were tried separately and Stubblefield was acquitted. However, the defendant was convicted of first degree murder and sentenced to death. (Id. at p. 1293.)
The Arizona Supreme Court reversed the sentence, finding insufficient evidence that the defendant acted with reckless indifference to human life. The only evidence of what occurred inside the apartment was the defendant's statement to police.
According to the court:
"Here, other than what defendant described, there is little to establish his involvement in the deaths of these young women. We know that, at a minimum, he stole a microwave after one of the murders and did nothing to prevent either victim's death. While this may demonstrate callousness and a shocking lack of moral fiber, it does not alone rise to the level of reckless indifference." (Lacy, supra, 929 P.2d at p. 1300.)
The court continued:
"We do not suggest that defendant's tale must be accepted at face value. Without his statement, however, we are left with an almost complete void as to what occurred that night. His fingerprints were nowhere to be found, it is unclear whether he knew Stubblefield had a gun, and it is uncertain that he should have anticipated violence." (Ibid.)