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Bullington v. Missouri
United States Supreme Court
451 U.S. 430, 101 S. Ct. 1852, 68 L. Ed. 2d 270 (1981)
Robert Bullington (defendant) was found guilty of capital murder for the killing of a woman he abducted and caused to drown. Before the trial, the State of Missouri (plaintiff) had provided notice required by law to Bullington that it would seek the death penalty and present evidence of two aggravating circumstances. If either were proved beyond a reasonable doubt, the jury would be permitted (but not required) to impose a sentence of death if it deemed such a sentence warranted. During the penalty phase of trial, the state offered evidence in support of the two aggravating circumstances for which it had provided notice to Bullington. The two aggravating circumstances were that Bullington had a substantial history of serious assaultive criminal convictions and that the murder was outrageously vile or inhuman. The jury returned its sentencing verdict of life imprisonment without the eligibility for probation or parole for 50 years. After trial, parts of Missouri’s jury-selection system were found unconstitutional, so the trial judge granted Bullington a new trial. Again, the state filed its required notice of its intent to seek the death penalty based on the same two aggravating circumstances. Bullington moved to bar the state from seeking the death penalty based on the double-jeopardy clause. The trial court granted the motion. The Missouri Supreme Court reversed the trial court judgment. The United States Supreme Court granted certiorari.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Blackmun, J.)
Dissent (Powell, J.)
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