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Tison v. Arizona

United States Supreme Court
481 U.S. 137 (1987)



Gary Tison was an inmate serving a sentence of life imprisonment for killing a guard during an attempted escape. On July 30, 1978, several years into his sentence, his brother and two sons, Ricky and Raymond Tison (defendants), attempted to free Gary from prison. They brought an ice chest full of weapons to the prison and armed both Gary and his cellmate, Randy Greenawalt. They locked the prison guards and other visitors in a closet and proceeded to escape in a Ford automobile. They then abandoned the Ford and decided to steal another car to continue their escape. Raymond flagged down a car occupied by a man and three of his family members. To Ricky and Raymond’s surprise, Gary and Randy shot and killed all four occupants of the car while Ricky and Raymond were at a distance getting water. Both Ricky and Raymond were convicted of felony-murder and sentenced to death.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (O’Connor, J.)

Dissent (Brennan, J.)

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