Charles David Ellison was convicted in 2002 of first-degree murder and burglary. The conviction stemmed from the burglary of a home in Kingman and the death by strangulation of the two elderly residents. A sentencing jury recommended the death penalty in 2004. On direct appeal, the Arizona Supreme Court held that the trial court did not err in admitting Ellison’s confession, because it was not made in violation of Miranda and was voluntary; that the defendant failed to show bias or prejudice that would have required the trial judge’s disqualification; that the trial judge did not abuse his discretion in any evidentiary rulings; that the trial judge did not err in his reasonable doubt instruction; that the trial judge did not err in denying Ellison’s motion for acquittal, and in so holding, that duress is not a defense to accomplice liability for murder; that there were no sentencing errors; and that six aggravating factors were proven and that the mitigation evidence was not sufficiently substantial to warrant leniency.
Justice Bales wrote the opinion for a unanimous court.