The State Of New Mexico Essay

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The state of New Mexico defines murder in the first degree as the killing of one person by another without a lawful justification or excuse. Any action resulting in death, which can be proven to have been willful, deliberate and premeditated; committed during the commission or attempt to commit a felony; or by an act so dangerous to the lives of others that it indicates a depraved mind and disregard for human life, is a capital felony (NM Stat § 30-2-1). Currently, capital felonies are subject to a sentence of life imprisonment, or a “true life imprisonment” sentence which provides no option for release or parole (NM Stat § 31-18-14). However, from 1979 to 2009, New Mexico carried a harsher set of punishments for first-degree murder; life in prison with the possibility of parole, or the death penalty.
Terry Clark was the only prisoner on death row to be executed before the penalty repeal in 2009. In 1987, a jury found Clark guilty after hearing gruesome testimony that he abducted, raped, and shot his young victim three times in the head before he buried her body in a shallow grave on his brother’s ranch. Unsurprisingly, Clark filed an appeal with the New Mexico Supreme Court after the lower court’s ruling and sentencing. In State v. Clark, 772 P.2d 322 (1989), the court carefully considered Clarks many claims of trial misconduct.
Clark originally entered a guilty plea after his defense counsel informed him that his death sentence might be commuted by then governor, Toney
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