[This category consists of cases where the defendant argued that he
was a follower under the influence of someone else. This is in contrast to cases where the
defendant argued that he was a minor participant in the crime, or did not have the intent
to kill. For those cases, see minor participation section or felony murder/lack of
Libberton, 141 Ariz. 132, 685 P.2d 1284 (1984)
The defendant argued that he is a follower and that he
merely followed the lead of his codefendant, James, in committing the murder. The Court
found that the defendant actively participated in the crime and even pointed the gun at
the victim while traveling to the mineshaft where the victim was finally killed.
State v. Gerlaugh
(Gerlaugh II), 144 Ariz. 449, 698 P.2d 694 (1985)
The defendant argued that because of his youth he is a
passive nonaggressive individual who is easily influenced by others. He argued that these
crimes are the result of the domineering influence of his codefendant. The psychiatrist
noted that the defendant had a history of associating with wild companions and that he
sought out the company of such people to hurt others and escape the consequences of his
actions. The trial court specifically found that the defendant was the leader and not a
follower in the commission of the murder. There was no reasonable probability that the
defendant's age would be a mitigating circumstance sufficiently substantial to outweigh
the aggravating circumstances.
State v. Kemp,
185 Ariz. 52, 912 P.2d 1281 (1996)
The defendant argued in his sentencing memorandum that he
was a follower based on the evidence presented at trial. Because he did not offer any
evidence or present witnesses, the Court agreed with the trial court that he did not prove
the existence of any mitigation.
State v. Miller,
186 Ariz. 314, 921 P.2d 1151 (1996)
Miller argued that the trial court failed to consider
specific instances of nonstatutory mitigation, including that he was only a follower,
which he raised for the first time on appeal. But the trial court said that it had
considered all statutory and nonstatutory mitigation, including mitigation that Miller did
not offer. Moreover, this alleged mitigating factor was not supported by the record.
State v. Chad Lee
(Reynolds, Lacey murders), 189 Ariz. 590, 944 P.2d 1204 (1997)
The defendant argued that he was a follower and that he
became involved with people and situations that he did not have the ability to control.
The Court agreed that the trial court properly rejected this as mitigation. The defendant
was armed with his own weapon in both murders, initiated both robberies by making the
phone calls, pulled the trigger in both murders, and stabbed Reynolds.
State v. (Frank Winfield) Anderson,
210 Ariz. 327, 111P.3d 639 ( 2005) Jury Trial/Indep. Review
While there was evidence that Andersonís I.Q. was below
average and that he did not have a leader-type personality, this was
accorded very little weight, since Anderson was ďnot mentally
retarded, unable to make his own decisions, or lacking in the capacity
to judge right from wrong.Ē
State v. McGill, 213 Ariz.
147, 140 P.3d 930 (2006) Jury Trial/Indep. Review
Claim that defendant was under the influence of his girlfriend lacked a
causal connection to the crime.
[This category consists of cases where the defendant argued
that he was a good person prior to the murder or had done good things before the murder.
Included are cases where the defendant argued that he had not done bad things prior to the
murder. This is in contrast to cases where the defendant argued that he has been on good
behavior or done good things while incarcerated or at trial. Those cases, and cases
arguing current changed character can be found in the model prisoner section. See
also the criminal history section for cases concerning the defendant's lack of a
criminal history in general or of a particular type of crime.]
Raymond Tison (Raymond Tison I), 129 Ariz. 546, 633 P.2d 355 (1981)
This mitigation was not established. Letters were written
on behalf of the defendant to the effect that he was essentially a peaceful person. The
Court found these to be of little value in light of the evidence. The defendant exhibited
his willingness to use violence during the prison breakout and during subsequent criminal
activity. The psychological report also indicated his potential for violence.
State v. Ortiz,
131 Ariz. 195, 639 P.2d 1020 (1982)
The defendant's standing as a responsible citizen and good
father might ordinarily be a "possible" mitigating circumstance. In this case it
was not because the court learned from the trial and the testimony of the defendant's wife
that he was "an adulterer, a violent wife beater, and a liar." The defendant
argued on appeal that the trial court erred in not finding the mitigating circumstances
proffered by the defendant. The Court concluded, "whatever mitigation evidence
appellant offered, it was not sufficiently substantial to call for leniency."
Patrick Poland (Patrick Poland II), 144 Ariz. 388, 698 P.2d 183 (1985)
The defendant argued that the trial court's failure to find
good reputation as a mitigating circumstance was error. The defendant pointed to numerous
letters written by family members and acquaintances attesting to his good reputation. But
this evidence was contradicted by the defendant's prior conviction. The trial court
reasoned that the defendant's reputation was not mitigating because it was falsely built.
In light of the conflicting evidence, the Court concluded that the defendant had not shown
by a preponderance of the evidence that good reputation was a mitigating circumstance.
Michael Poland (Michael Poland II), 144 Ariz. 412, 698 P.2d 207 (1985)
The defendant argued that the trial court erred in not
finding good reputation as a mitigating circumstance. The Court disagreed. The defendant
presented many letters from family members and acquaintances attesting to his good
character. This was contradicted by evidence at trial where the defendant admitted that he
engaged in numerous criminal activities including robbing drug dealers and selling illicit
gems. Although the jury did not believe his explanation that he was engaged in such a
transaction at the time of the murder, the Court can still consider this admission that he
at times has been engaged in other criminal conduct.
State v. Stanley,
167 Ariz. 519, 809 P.2d 944 (1991)
The trial court found three separate things to be
mitigating factors: (1) that the defendant was an adequate family man; (2) that the
defendant had attempted to rehabilitate himself from marijuana and alcohol abuse problems;
and (3) that the defendant had exhibited very little violent behavior or spousal abuse.
The trial court concluded that this mitigation was insufficient to require leniency and
the Court agreed with that assessment.
State v. White
(White I), 168 Ariz. 500, 815 P.2d 869 (1991)
The defendant proffered in mitigation the fact that during
various periods of his life he was a productive person. The Court noted this, but did not
discuss it. The Court concluded that this was insufficient to warrant leniency.
George Lopez, 174 Ariz. 131, 847 P.2d 1078 (1992)
The defendant's mitigation consisted of evidence presented
that the defendant was a good parent and that he cared for children and never acted
inappropriately with them. However, the defendant had been arrested for child molestation
in December 1988. He beat to death his one-year-old son in August 1989, ten days before he
was sentenced to 22 years in prison for that child molestation charge. The trial court
properly found that the record refuted the proffered mitigating circumstances.
State v. West,
176 Ariz. 432, 862 P.2d 192 (1993)
The defendant argued that when he is drug free, he is
nonviolent and law-abiding, and has good work skills. Even if these claims were true, the
evidence was not mitigating in this case, given the defendant's repeated rejection of
opportunities to enter drug rehabilitation.
State v. Henry
(Henry I), 176 Ariz. 569, 863 P.2d 861 (1993)
The defendant proffered the fact that he had saved lives in
the past as mitigation. The Court simply noted that the trial judge considered this
factor, and properly concluded that it was entitled to little or no weight.
State v. Gonzales,
181 Ariz. 502, 892 P.2d 838 (1995)
The record does not indicate evidence of good character
that would constitute a mitigating circumstance. The defendant had four prior felony
convictions and a long criminal record as a juvenile. He was on parole at the time he
committed this murder. The defendant offered testimony from various family members who
indicated that they got along with the defendant, trusted him, did not consider him
violent, and would maintain a relationship with him in prison. This was more evidence of
family support as opposed to evidence of good character. However, the Court determined
that this evidence did not have any mitigating weight.
Willoughby, 181 Ariz. 530, 892 P.2d 1319 (1995)
The defendant presented many witnesses at his sentencing
hearing who testified that he had been a generous and compassionate coworker, friend,
neighbor and family member. He offered money and moral support to several people without
any expectation of repayment. He was an active member of his church and considered by his
mother-in-law, prior to the murder, to be a good parent and provider. Many people
portrayed him as being a substantial contributor to their community. The trial judge found
this evidence credible. A psychological evaluation completed for the trial court indicated
that the defendant was essentially self-centered with certain aggressive impulses to
control other people. The psychologists who wrote the report concluded that the apparently
altruistic acts were probably manifestations of these defenses to loss of control. The
trial court thus concluded from this report that the defendant was not a good man gone
bad, but that the altruistic acts were manifestations of the character traits which
eventually led him to plan and execute the murder of his wife. The Court indicated that it
believed that proof of a great number of past good deeds, even if prompted by impure
psychological motives, has considerable mitigating value and is entitled to substantial
weight. In this case, however, it was not sufficient to overcome the strong aggravating
factor of pecuniary gain.
State v. Stokley,
182 Ariz. 505, 898 P.2d 454 (1995)
Stokley failed to prove good character by a preponderance
of the evidence. Two former wives of Stokley testified that he had physically abused them,
threatened them with death, and threatened that their bodies would be thrown down a
Aryon Williams, 183 Ariz.368, 904 P.2d 437 (1995)
The defendant displayed good character prior to murdering
the victim. He was law abiding and had a peaceful reputation. He performed CPR on someone
having a heart attack and saved two people from possible drowning when he was a lifeguard.
The trial court correctly found this to be a relevant nonstatutory mitigating
State v. Walden, 183 Ariz. 595, 905 P.2d 974 (1995)
The defendant offered evidence that he was involved in
organized sports, coached little league, was a good athlete, received good grades two
years in high school, is held in high regard by his friends and family, and served in the
military until he received a general discharge after trying to pass a bad check. After
reviewing this evidence, the Court found that alone, or with the other evidence proffered
in mitigation, it was not sufficiently substantial to call for leniency.
State v. Miles,
186 Ariz. 10, 918 P.2d 1028 (1996)
The Court simply listed the defendant's previous reputation
for nonviolence as a nonstatutory mitigating circumstance without discussion. The Court
noted that the state did not contest this finding. The Court accepted it as given, but
found it insufficient to warrant leniency.
State v. Hyde,
186 Ariz. 252, 921 P.2d 655 (1996)
The defendant's family and acquaintances testified that he
was a nonviolent person before these crimes. The Court found that the defendant had proven
his good character by a preponderance of the evidence. However, the Court gave it little
weight given the violent nature of the Lee murders.
State v. Thornton,
187 Ariz. 325, 929 P.2d 676 (1996)
The Court agreed with the trial court that Thornton's 23
felony convictions since 1978 are not reflective of a person of good character. His life
showed a consistent disregard for the rights of others and his character was not a
v. Mann, 188 Ariz. 220, 934 P.2d 784 (1997)
defendant argued that after the murders he changed his lifestyle, quit
using drugs and alcohol, held a steady job, and was repairing his
relationship with his oldest daughter.
The Court concluded without discussion that this mitigation was
not sufficiently substantial to call for leniency.
State v. Henry
(Henry II), 189 Ariz. 542, 944 P.2d 57 (1997)
Henry argued that the trial court erred in failing to give
mitigating weight to the fact that he had saved the lives of four people during his
lifetime. Without further discussion, the Court noted that in Henry I, it upheld
the trial court's conclusion regarding this factor, and nothing presented since that
decision had persuaded it to do otherwise.
State v. Chad Lee
(Reynolds, Lacey murders), 189 Ariz. 590, 944 P.2d 1204 (1997)
The defendant argued that he was kind, caring, and steadily
employed until he became involved with Hunt. The Court rejected this as mitigation without
any specific discussion.
Schackart, 190 Ariz. 238, 947 P.2d 315 (1997)
The trial court considered the defendant's lack of contact
with the criminal justice system prior to assaulting his wife, in addition to the
defendant's positive activities as a youth. He participated in writing and speaking
programs in high school, and was involved in internships, enrolled in a university and
some additional community activities. The Court agreed that the defendant's early youth
exhibited promise and accorded some mitigating weight to these elements.
State v. Greene,
192 Ariz. 431, 967 P.2d 106 (1998)
Greene argued that he had been a positive influence on his
stepbrother. Greene's stepbrother, a middle school teacher, testified that Greene taught
him new perspectives and self-reliance. Although past good conduct and character is a
relevant mitigating circumstance, a single good deed, removed in time from the crime, does
not rise to that level and is not mitigating.
State v. White
(White II), 194 Ariz. 344, 982 P.2d 819 (1999)
The defendant asked the trial court to find the murder to
be aberrant behavior by the defendant and pointed to his lack of a prior felony record or
any record of violent behavior. The absence of such a record may be mitigating. The trial
judge in both sentencings, however, considered that. The Ninth Circuit created the
aberrant behavior concept as an exception to the federal sentencing guidelines. The
doctrine has been applied in cases that would result in a fundamentally unfair sentence,
but not in a capital case. Even if this were to be considered a mitigator, the defendant's
behavior in this case would not qualify as aberrant behavior. Looking to the federal
cases, the lack of a criminal record is not synonymous with aberrant behavior. See
criminal history section and aberrant behavior in the miscellaneous section.
State v. Robert
Jones, 197 Ariz. 290, 4 P.3d 345 (2000)
The Court agreed with the trail court that
good character was not proven in this case. While the defendant
provided evidence that he was extremely polite, this was contradicted by
evidence of his involvement in other crimes. The defendant committed
crimes as a juvenile, and had been in and out of prison for felony
convictions since that time. In fact, he was on parole when these
murders were committed. The defendant also argued that he had a
history of providing emotional and financial support to his mother and
sister. The evidence presented indicated that the defendant
protected his mother and sister from beatings by a stepfather once he grew
big enough to do so. The trial court properly found this to be scant
evidence of good deeds given all the crimes the defendant had committed.
(Ruben) Garza, 216 Ariz. 56, 163 P.3d 1006 (2007)
Garza called 27 friends and family members who testified in the penalty
phase to his good character and absence of prior criminal behavior. The
court accorded this mitigation less weight because the crime was planned
State v. Harrod
("Harrod III"), 218 Ariz. 268, 183 P.3d. 519 (2008) The
defendantís lack of criminal history, past good conduct, absence of
violent acts, educational accomplishments, the fact that the offense was
out-of-character, and good conduct during trial were collectively
considered as evidence of good character. These factors deserved less
weight in a case involving a murder planned in advance. ∂61.
v. (Shad Daniel) Armstrong (Armstrong III), 218 Ariz. 451, 189 P.3d
Evidence of the defendantís compassionate nature was entitled to little
weight because it was far removed from the crime and the facts of the
crime rebut that the defendant is a compassionate and loving person.
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