Copyright (c) 1995 New Mexico Law Review
New Mexico Law Review
TRENDS IN NEW MEXICO LAW: 1993-94 NOTE: CRIMINAL PROCEDURE-Only the Supreme Court Can Determine Whether the Death Sentence Would be Excessive or Disproportionate: State v. Wyrostek
25 N.M.L. Rev. 271
In State v. Wyrostek, 1 the New Mexico Supreme Court held that it alone can determine whether a death sentence is excessive or disproportionate. 2 The issue, one of first impression in New Mexico, 3 arose after a district court ruled in a pre-trial order that the death penalty would be excessive or disproportionate when compared to the penalty imposed in similar cases. 4
By prohibiting the district court from conducting proportionality reviews, Wyrostek denies defendants one method of evading the death penalty. After Wyrostek, only the supreme court can decide if the death penalty is proportionate. This decision, a simple matter of criminal procedure, has a profound impact on the law.
This Note will give an overview of the issue in other jurisdictions, review the facts and procedural history of State v. Wyrostek, examine the court's rationale and policy considerations, and explore the implications of the decision.
II. STATEMENT OF THE CASE
A grand jury indicted Vance Wyrostek for first-degree murder, conspiracy to commit first-degree murder, aggravated battery, and tampering with evidence. 5 Before the grand jury, the State alleged that Wyrostek was having a party in his home when Francisco Gomez made several sexual comments about Wyrostek's sister. In response, Wyrostek and his brother beat Gomez unconscious. Wyrostek, his brother, and Larry Lyannas then loaded Gomez into a pick up truck, drove away from the house, and dumped him in a ditch. Thereafter, Wyrostek drove himself and Larry Lyannas to ...
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