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Eddings v. Oklahoma
United States Supreme Court
455 U.S. 104, 102 S. Ct. 869, 71 L. Ed. 2d 1 (1982)
Monty Eddings (defendant) shot and killed an Oklahoma Highway Patrol officer after being pulled over. Eddings was 16 years old at the time of the offense, but he was tried as an adult. Eddings pleaded nolo contendere and was found guilty of first-degree murder. At Eddings’s sentencing hearing, the judge found that the state proved three statutory aggravating circumstances. The judge also found that Eddings’s age was a mitigating factor. However, the judge refused to consider evidence that Eddings had presented about his troubled upbringing and emotional disturbance, stating that such evidence of a violent background could not be considered as a matter of law. Eddings was sentenced to death. The appellate court affirmed the death sentence as well as the trial judge’s preclusion of certain mitigating factors, reasoning that only mitigating evidence that provided a legal excuse from criminal responsibility could be considered. The United States Supreme Court granted certiorari.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Powell, J.)
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