Monday, January 25, 2010

Sotomayor Upholds Death Penalty for Alabama Killer

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor issued her first opinion on the death penalty. In a 7-2 ruling the high court upheld the death penalty for Holly Wood of Alabama, Wood v. Allen, Dkt. No. 08-9156. In 1993, Wood killed his former girlfriend with a shotgun while she was sleeping.

According to the Washington Post:

The Alabama Supreme Court upheld Wood's sentence, but a federal judge agreed with Wood that the lawyer's performance was incompetent. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit reversed that decision.

The Supreme Court on Wednesday said the appeals court was right. "Even if it is debatable, it is not unreasonable to conclude that . . . counsel made a strategic decision not to inquire further into the information contained in the report about Wood's mental deficiencies and not to present to the jury such information," Sotomayor wrote.

She noted that the report contained information about Wood trying to kill another ex-girlfriend in much the same manner.

The decision was applauded by death penalty supporters.

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