Brief Fact Summary.
Yates appealed his death penalty conviction claiming that a defendant should not be committed to the death sentence if the person did not commit the murder personally.
Synopsis of Rule of Law.
A person can be sentenced to death because an accomplice committed murder during a felony.
Yates and an accomplice robbed a general store with a gun and a knife. Yates shot the owner of the store and his accomplice stabbed the owner’s wife to death. Yates was sentenced to death and appealed his conviction.
Whether a person can be sentenced to death because an accomplice committed murder during a felony?
Yes. Yates’ conviction and death sentence are upheld. Yates committed an armed robbery where the victim died, and Yates exhibited his disdain for human life by shooting the storeowner, with the intent to cause serious bodily injury or death. Despite not killing the storeowner’s wife, Yates exhibited that he was willing to kill if the storeowner didn’t cooperate.
The death penalty is appropriate in instances of capital murder where aggravating circumstances display the defendant’s disregard for human life. Aggravating circumstances are facts in the case that display the defendant’s disdain for the live surrounding his actions.