Updated Jan 9, 2013 - 11:51 am
Court overturns man's death sentence in daughter's murder
PHOENIX -- The Arizona Supreme Court has concluded that a man was mentally disabled and cannot be executed for murdering his 2-year-old daughter by dousing her with gasoline and setting her on fire.
The state Supreme Court's unanimous ruling Wednesday overturns Shawn Ryan Grell's death sentence, reducing it to natural life in prison.
Grell was convicted of the Dec. 2, 1999 murder of Kristen Grell in the desert near Mesa.
The court's ruling said the killing was "horrific" and devastating to the family but that Grell's sentence must be reduced.
The justices said that's because the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that it would be constitutionally prohibited cruel and unusual punishment to execute someone with mental retardation.
One of the previous Supreme Court opinions in Grell's case responded to his claim that he had mental retardation. The second sent his case back to Superior Court so he could be sentenced by a jury instead of a judge.