US Supreme Court rules against Arizona death row inmate

Dec 15, 2020, 2:44 PM | Updated: 2:45 pm
George Kayer (Booking Photo via Arizona Attorney General’s Office)...
George Kayer (Booking Photo via Arizona Attorney General’s Office)
(Booking Photo via Arizona Attorney General’s Office)

PHOENIX – The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday ruled against a convicted Arizona murderer who was trying to have his death sentence overturned.

The nation’s highest court voted down an appeals court decision that said George Kayer was entitled to a new sentencing trial. Three justices — Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotamayor and Elena Kagan — dissented.

Katie Conner, spokeswoman for Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich’s office, told KTAR New 92.3 FM on Tuesday that Kayer has now exhausted all of his appeals.

There’s no telling when Kayer, or the 20 other death row inmates in the same situation, will be put to death.

The state stopped carrying out death sentences after a botched execution in 2014.

The state settled a lawsuit challenging its lethal injection procedures five months ago, but authorities haven’t been able to procure the drug needed for lethal injections.

“General Brnovich has an obligation to uphold the rule of law and ensure that death sentences are carried out,” Conner said. “To do otherwise is to thumb our noses at the will of Arizonans.

“If people don’t like the law they need to change it or vote for different lawmakers to get it changed in the Legislature.”

Kayer was convicted of shooting a friend, Delbert Haas, in the head in order to rob him in 1994. The homicide occurred when they pulled off the highway in Yavapai County after a gambling trip to Laughlin, Nevada.

A jury found him guilty of first-degree murder and other crimes.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals had sided with Kayer in his claim that his lawyers made a mistake by not presenting some evidence during his sentencing.

The Supreme Court’s decision reiterates the law that requires federal courts to defer to state court decisions under the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act, according to Brnovich’s office.

KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Griselda Zetino and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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US Supreme Court rules against Arizona death row inmate