Arizona inmate sentenced to death for the 2nd time in cellmate’s murder

Apr 18, 2023, 7:00 PM

(Arizona Department of Corrections, Rehabilitation and Reentry Photo)...

(Arizona Department of Corrections, Rehabilitation and Reentry Photo)

(Arizona Department of Corrections, Rehabilitation and Reentry Photo)

PHOENIX (AP) — An Arizona man has been sentenced to death for the second time in the 2010 murder of his prison cellmate, who was castrated and had his throat slit.

In the first Arizona capital case to be brought back for a do-over since twin U.S. Supreme Court rulings earlier this year, a Maricopa County Superior Court jury deliberated for about one hour Monday before upholding Jasper Rushing’s sentence.

Judge Michael Kemp, who sentenced Rushing the first time in the murder of 40-year-old Shannon Palmer, told jurors they had to decide if there was any evidence presented during last week’s new sentencing phase that warranted leniency toward Rushing.

The Arizona Republic reported Rushing didn’t present any evidence of that kind to the courtroom.

Rushing being found guilty of first-degree murder in Palmer’s death could not play a roll in the jury’s sentencing decision, according to the newspaper. Rushing, 42, was found guilty of first-degree murder and first sentenced to death in 2015.

Prosecutors said Rushing put a softcover book inside a sock and bludgeoned Palmer at the Lewis Prison Complex in Buckeye, then slit the victim’s throat multiple times and cut off his penis with a razor blade.

Rushing was convicted of theft and drug possession, as well as the 2001 murder of his former stepfather, for which at the time of Palmer’s murder he was serving life with the possibility of release after 25 years.

Rushing was the last of four capital defendants whose cases went back to Maricopa County because of a 2016 U.S. Supreme Court ruling.

Earlier this year, the high court upheld for a third time that Arizona was ignoring the 30-year legal precedent that gives defendants the right to tell juries that if they were sentenced to life, they would not be eligible for release.

Rushing’s case now goes to the Arizona Supreme Court for an automatic appeal. As of Tuesday, there were 109 inmates on the state’s death row.

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Arizona inmate sentenced to death for the 2nd time in cellmate’s murder