2002 Regular Session
To: Judiciary En Banc
By: Representative Lott, Cameron, Chism, Formby, Janus, Jennings, Martinson, Robertson
AN ACT TO AMEND SECTIONS 99-19-101, 99-19-103 AND 99-19-105, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO REVISE SENTENCING FOR CAPITAL OFFENSES TO PROVIDE FOR THE DEATH PENALTY OR LIFE WITHOUT ELIGIBILITY FOR PAROLE; AND FOR RELATED PURPOSES.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI:
SECTION 1. Section 99-19-101, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
99-19-101. (1) Upon conviction or adjudication of guilt of a defendant of capital murder or other capital offense, the court shall conduct a separate sentencing proceeding to determine whether the defendant should be sentenced to death or life imprisonment without eligibility for parole * * *. The proceeding shall be conducted by the trial judge before the trial jury as soon as practicable. If, through impossibility or inability, the trial jury is unable to reconvene for a hearing on the issue of penalty, having determined the guilt of the accused, the trial judge may summon a jury to determine the issue of the imposition of the penalty. If the trial jury has been waived, or if the defendant pleaded guilty, the sentencing proceeding shall be conducted before a jury impaneled for that purpose or may be conducted before the trial judge sitting without a jury if both the State of Mississippi and the defendant agree thereto in writing. In the proceeding, evidence may be presented as to any matter that the court deems relevant to sentence, and shall include matters relating to any of the aggravating or mitigating circumstances. However, this subsection shall not be construed to authorize the introduction of any evidence secured in violation of the Constitution of the United States or of the State of Mississippi. The state and the defendant and/or his counsel shall be permitted to present arguments for or against the sentence of death.
(2) After hearing all the evidence, the jury shall deliberate on the following matters:
(a) Whether sufficient factors exist as enumerated in subsection (7) of this section;
(b) Whether sufficient aggravating circumstances exist as enumerated in subsection (5) of this section;
(c) Whether sufficient mitigating circumstances exist as enumerated in subsection (6) of this section, which outweigh the aggravating circumstances found to exist; and
(d) Based on these considerations, whether the defendant should be sentenced to * * * life imprisonment without eligibility for parole, or death.
(3) For the jury to impose a sentence of death, it must unanimously find in writing the following:
(a) That sufficient factors exist as enumerated in subsection (7) of this section;
(b) That sufficient aggravating circumstances exist as enumerated in subsection (5) of this section; and
(c) That there are insufficient mitigating circumstances, as enumerated in subsection (6), to outweigh the aggravating circumstances.
In each case in which the jury imposes the death sentence, the determination of the jury shall be supported by specific written findings of fact based upon the circumstances in subsections (5) and (6) of this section and upon the records of the trial and the sentencing proceedings. If, after the trial of the penalty phase, the jury does not make the findings requiring the death sentence or life imprisonment without eligibility for parole, or is unable to reach a decision, the court shall impose a sentence of life imprisonment without eligibility for parole.
(4) The judgment of conviction and sentence of death shall be subject to automatic review by the Supreme Court of Mississippi within sixty (60) days after certification by the sentencing court of entire record, unless the time is extended for an additional period by the Supreme Court for good cause shown. Such review by the Supreme Court shall have priority over all other cases and shall be heard in accordance with rules promulgated by the Supreme Court.
(5) Aggravating circumstances shall be limited to the following:
(a) The capital offense was committed by a person under sentence of imprisonment.
(b) The defendant was previously convicted of another capital offense or of a felony involving the use or threat of violence to the person.
(c) The defendant knowingly created a great risk of death to many persons.
(d) The capital offense was committed while the defendant was engaged, or was an accomplice, in the commission of, or an attempt to commit, or flight after committing or attempting to commit, any robbery, rape, arson, burglary, kidnapping, aircraft piracy, sexual battery, unnatural intercourse with any child under the age of twelve (12), or nonconsensual unnatural intercourse with mankind, or felonious abuse and/or battery of a child in violation of subsection (2) of Section 97-5-39, Mississippi Code of 1972, or the unlawful use or detonation of a bomb or explosive device.
(e) The capital offense was committed for the purpose of avoiding or preventing a lawful arrest or effecting an escape from custody.
(f) The capital offense was committed for pecuniary gain.
(g) The capital offense was committed to disrupt or hinder the lawful exercise of any governmental function or the enforcement of laws.
(h) The capital offense was especially heinous, atrocious or cruel.
(6) Mitigating circumstances shall be the following:
(a) The defendant has no significant history of prior criminal activity.
(b) The offense was committed while the defendant was under the influence of extreme mental or emotional disturbance.
(c) The victim was a participant in the defendant's conduct or consented to the act.
(d) The defendant was an accomplice in the capital offense committed by another person and his participation was relatively minor.
(e) The defendant acted under extreme duress or under the substantial domination of another person.
(f) The capacity of the defendant to appreciate the criminality of his conduct or to conform his conduct to the requirements of law was substantially impaired.
(g) The age of the defendant at the time of the crime.
(7) In order to return and impose a sentence of death the jury must make a written finding of one or more of the following:
(a) The defendant actually killed;
(b) The defendant attempted to kill;
(c) The defendant intended that a killing take place;
(d) The defendant contemplated that lethal force would be employed.
SECTION 2. Section 99-19-103, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
99-19-103. The statutory instructions as determined by the trial judge to be warranted by the evidence shall be given in the charge and in writing to the jury for its deliberation. The jury, if its verdict be a unanimous recommendation of death, shall designate in writing, signed by the foreman of the jury, the statutory aggravating circumstance or circumstances which it unanimously found beyond a reasonable doubt. Unless at least one (1) of the statutory aggravated circumstances enumerated in Section 99-19-101 is so found or if it is found that any such aggravating circumstance is overcome by the finding of one or more mitigating circumstances, the death penalty shall not be imposed. If the jury cannot, within a reasonable time, agree as to punishment, the judge shall dismiss the jury and impose a sentence of imprisonment for life without eligibility for parole.
SECTION 3. Section 99-19-105, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
99-19-105. (1) Whenever the death penalty is imposed, and upon the judgment becoming final in the trial court, the sentence shall be reviewed on the record by the Mississippi Supreme Court. The clerk of the trial court, within ten (10) days after receiving the transcript, shall transmit the entire record and transcript to the Mississippi Supreme Court together with a notice prepared by the clerk and a report prepared by the trial judge. The notice shall set forth the title and docket number of the case, the name of the defendant and the name and address of his attorney, a narrative statement of the judgment, the offense, and the punishment prescribed. The report shall be in the form of a standard questionnaire prepared and supplied by the Mississippi Supreme Court, a copy of which shall be served upon counsel for the state and counsel for the defendant.
(2) The Mississippi Supreme Court shall consider the punishment as well as any errors enumerated by way of appeal.
(3) With regard to the sentence, the court shall determine:
(a) Whether the sentence of death was imposed under the influence of passion, prejudice or any other arbitrary factor;
(b) Whether the evidence supports the jury's or judge's finding of a statutory aggravating circumstance as enumerated in Section 99-19-101;
(c) Whether the sentence of death is excessive or disproportionate to the penalty imposed in similar cases, considering both the crime and the defendant; and
(d) Should one or more of the aggravating circumstances be found invalid on appeal, the Mississippi Supreme Court shall determine whether the remaining aggravating circumstances are outweighed by the mitigating circumstances or whether the inclusion of any invalid circumstance was harmless error, or both.
(4) Both the defendant and the state shall have the right to submit briefs within the time provided by the court, and to present oral argument to the court.
(5) The court shall include in its decision a reference to those similar cases which it took into consideration. In addition to its authority regarding correction of errors, the court, with regard to review of death sentences, shall be authorized to:
(a) Affirm the sentence of death;
(b) Reweigh the remaining aggravating circumstances against the mitigating circumstances should one or more of the aggravating circumstances be found to be invalid, and (i) affirm the sentence of death or (ii) hold the error in the sentence phase harmless error and affirm the sentence of death or (iii) remand the case for a new sentencing hearing; or
(c) Set the sentence aside and remand the case for modification of the sentence to imprisonment for life without eligibility for parole.
(6) The sentence review shall be in addition to direct appeal, if taken, and the review and appeal shall be consolidated for consideration. The court shall render its decision on legal errors enumerated, the factual substantiation of the verdict, and the validity of the sentence.
SECTION 4. This act shall take effect and be in force from and after July 1, 2002.