A jury convicted Tracy Allen Hampton in 2002 of two counts of first degree murder and one count of manslaughter for the murders of a man, a pregnant woman, and her unborn child. Following the decision in Ring v. Arizona, 536 U.S. 584 (2002), the State convened a new jury for sentencing purposes. That jury found that the death penalty was warranted for each of the two counts of first degree murder. On direct appeal, the Arizona Supreme Court upheld the convictions and sentences. The Court determined that, despite substantial mitigating evidence regarding Hampton’s “horrendous childhood” and mental health struggles, and despite the Court’s decision that it would not consider the “especially heinous or depraved” aggravating circumstance because the jury was improperly instructed as to that aggravator, the remaining aggravating circumstance—multiple homicides—was entitled to “extraordinary weight” and, therefore, the mitigation evidence was not sufficiently substantial to call for leniency.
Justice Hurwitz wrote the opinion for the unanimous Court.