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Jury rejects death sentence but splits on life with & life without

The Las Vegas Review Journal reports that the jury considering the sentence of James Harrison was unable to reach a verdict. Nine of the jurors wanted life without parole and three wanted life with the possibility of parole. None of the jurors wanted the death penalty.

Editorial: This case illustrates why the Nevada Supreme Court should stay out of the "reweighing" business. Harrison was convicted of first degree murder of a victim who suffered 128 stab wounds, nine blows to the head, and had a swastika carved into his back. The prosecutors claims that Harrison did the stabbing and mutilation to earn entrance into an Aryan gang. Despite the existence of several aggravating circumstances, none of the jurors believed that the death penalty was appropriate. In several recent cases the Nevada Supreme Court has found aggravating circumstances to be invalid but also affirmed the sentences of death after finding "beyond a reasonable doubt" that the finding of the aggravating circumstance did not contribute to the jury's verdict and that the jury would have imposed death in any event. The Harrison case proves the unpredictability of the death penalty and the fact that there is no way to determine, beyond a reasonable doubt, that a jury would return a death sentence in any situation.

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