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Court upholds death sentences in 2 killings

Posted: 7:12 AM, Sep 28, 2018
Updated: 2018-09-28 14:12:39Z
Court upholds death sentences in 2 killings

The Arizona Supreme Court has again upheld the death sentences of a man convicted of two Phoenix-area killings in which both victims were shot in the back of the head during 1991 burglaries of their homes.

The state high court's ruling Thursday said evidence supporting leniency for James Erin McKinney was outweighed by evidence supporting death sentences, including the fact that one victim was stabbed and beaten before being shot.
    
The state high court first upheld the reconsidered McKinney's death sentences in the killings of Christine Mertens and Jim McClain in 1996, but a federal appeals court said the court's first ruling used in incorrect legal standard.
    
Co-defendant and half brother Charles Michael Hedlund also was convicted and was sentenced to death and various prison terms.