Defendant Successfully Asks for Reconsideration of Sentence in Arizona Violent Crimes Case

At the beginning of February 2024, the Arizona Court of Appeals, Division One, issued an order vacating in part a defendant’s sentences that resulted from the murder of his wife. The defendant originally faced charges for second-degree murder, abandonment of a dead body, and tampering with physical evidence. He appealed his convictions and sentences, partially on grounds that the trial court incorrectly calculated how much time he should serve given his guilty verdict. The higher court agreed with the defendant’s argument, ordering the court to resentence him according to its instructions.

Background of the Case

The opinion details the case’s history. One evening in October 2019, the defendant and his wife began arguing. Sometime between the hours of 7:15pm and 9:00pm, neighbors heard a gunshot, and investigators later learned that the bullet came from one of the defendant’s guns. The defendant’s wife was later found dead by the same bullet. The defendant had attempted to clean the bloodied carpet, the furniture, and the padding under the nearby turf, but stains remained that revealed what had occurred. Following the clean-up attempts, the defendant dumped his wife’s body by a ditch nearby.

Despite these attempts to hide the murder, investigators found enough evidence to link the defendant to the crime. He was criminally charged, and after a ten-day trial, the jury returned guilty verdicts. The court sentenced the defendant to the maximum amount of time for all three convictions. The defendant promptly appealed.

The Court’s Decision

On appeal, the defendant argued that the trial court unfairly took into account a prior conviction when deciding on his sentence. Considering this argument, the higher court ultimately agreed and ordered that the court re-sentence the defendant accordingly.

At the heart of the court’s opinion was the fact that the trial court did not find that the defendant had what is called a “historical prior felony conviction.” The defendant did have a prior attempted aggravated DUI conviction on his record, but this offense did not qualify under the law as a “historical prior felony conviction,” which meant the trial court could not consider the offense when deciding the defendant’s sentence. Therefore, the trial court’s sentencing decision was too harsh, and it was the trial court’s job to reconsider the sentence without taking into account this attempted aggravated DUI conviction.

Ruling for the defendant, then, the Court sent the case back down to the lower court.

Are You on the Lookout for an Arizona Violent Crimes Attorney?

If you or a loved one has been charged with a violent crime in Arizona, give us a call at the Law Office of James E. Novak. We recognize that any criminal charges are serious charges, and we are committed to making sure your voice is heard and your rights are well protected. With so much on the line in the face of criminal charges, the best thing you can do for yourself is reach out to an aggressive, experienced Arizona violent crimes attorney today. For a free and confidential consultation with our firm, give us a call at (480) 413-1499. You can also fill out our online form to have an attorney reach back out to you as soon as possible.


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