19-2515. Sentence in capital cases — Special sentencing proceeding — Statutory aggravating circumstances — Special verdict or written findings. (1) Except as provided in section 19-2515A, Idaho Code, a person convicted of murder in the first degree shall be liable for the imposition of the penalty of death if such person killed, intended a killing, or acted with reckless indifference to human life, irrespective of whether such person directly committed the acts that caused death.
(2) Where a person is sentenced to serve a term in the penitentiary, after conviction of a crime which falls within the provisions of section 20-1005, Idaho Code, except in cases where the court retains jurisdiction, the comments and arguments of the counsel for the state and the defendant relative to the sentencing and the comments of the judge relative to the sentencing shall be recorded. If the comments are recorded electronically, they need not be transcribed. Otherwise, they shall be transcribed by the court reporter.
(3) Where a person is convicted of an offense which may be punishable by death, a sentence of death shall not be imposed unless:
(a) A notice of intent to seek the death penalty was filed and served as provided in section 18-4004A, Idaho Code; and
(b) The jury, or the court if a jury is waived, finds beyond a reasonable doubt at least one (1) statutory aggravating circumstance. Where a statutory aggravating circumstance is found, the defendant shall be sentenced to death unless mitigating circumstances which may be presented are found to be sufficiently compelling that the death penalty would be unjust. The jury shall not direct imposition of a sentence of death unless it unanimously finds at least one (1) statutory aggravating circumstance and unanimously determines that the penalty of death should be imposed.
(4) Notwithstanding any court rule to the contrary, when a defendant is adjudicated guilty of murder in the first degree, whether by acceptance of a plea of guilty, by verdict of a jury, or by decision of the trial court sitting without a jury, no presentence investigation shall be conducted; provided however, that if a special sentencing proceeding is not held or if a special sentencing proceeding is held but no statutory aggravating circumstance has been proven beyond a reasonable doubt, the court may order that a presentence investigation be conducted.
(5)(a) If a person is adjudicated guilty of murder in the first degree, whether by acceptance of a plea of guilty, by verdict of a jury, or by decision of the trial court sitting without a jury, and a notice of intent to seek the death penalty was filed and served as provided in section 18-4004A, Idaho Code, a special sentencing proceeding shall be held promptly for the purpose of hearing all relevant evidence and arguments of counsel in aggravation and mitigation of the offense. Information concerning the victim and the impact that the death of the victim has had on the victim’s family is relevant and admissible. Such information shall be designed to demonstrate the victim’s uniqueness as an individual human being and the resultant loss to the community by the victim’s death. Characterizations and opinions about the crime, the defendant and the appropriate sentence shall not be permitted as part of any victim impact information. The special sentencing proceeding shall be conducted before a jury unless a jury is waived by the defendant with the consent of the prosecuting attorney.
(b) If the defendant’s guilt was determined by a jury verdict, the same jury shall hear the special sentencing proceeding; provided however, that if it is impracticable to reconvene the same jury to hear the special sentencing proceeding due to an insufficient number of jurors, the trial court may dismiss that jury and convene a new jury of twelve (12) persons, plus alternate jurors as the trial court deems necessary pursuant to section 19-1904, Idaho Code.
(c) If the defendant’s guilt was determined by a plea of guilty or by a decision of the trial court sitting without a jury, or if a retrial of the special sentencing proceeding is necessary for any reason including, but not limited to, a mistrial in a previous special sentencing proceeding or as a consequence of a remand from an appellate court, the trial court shall impanel a jury of twelve (12) persons, plus alternate jurors as the trial court deems necessary pursuant to section 19-1904, Idaho Code, unless such jury is waived.
(d) If a special sentencing proceeding is conducted before a newly impaneled jury pursuant to the provisions of subsection (5)(b) or (5)(c) of this section, the state and the defense may present evidence to inform the jury of the nature and circumstances of the murder for which the defendant was convicted. The newly impaneled jury shall be instructed that the defendant has previously been found guilty of first-degree murder and that the jury’s purpose is limited to making findings relevant for sentencing.
(6) At the special sentencing proceeding, the state and the defendant shall be entitled to present all relevant evidence in aggravation and mitigation. Disclosure of evidence to be relied on in the sentencing proceeding shall be made in accordance with Idaho criminal rule 16. Evidence admitted at trial shall be considered and need not be repeated at the sentencing hearing.
(7) The jury shall be informed as follows:
(a) If the jury finds that a statutory aggravating circumstance exists and no mitigating circumstances exist which would make the imposition of the death penalty unjust, the defendant will be sentenced to death by the court.
(b) If the jury finds the existence of a statutory aggravating circumstance but finds that the existence of mitigating circumstances makes the imposition of the death penalty unjust or the jury cannot unanimously agree on whether the existence of mitigating circumstances makes the imposition of the death penalty unjust, the defendant will be sentenced to a term of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole; and
(c) If the jury does not find the existence of a statutory aggravating circumstance or if the jury cannot unanimously agree on the existence of a statutory aggravating circumstance, the defendant will be sentenced by the court to a term of life imprisonment with a fixed term of not less than ten (10) years.
(8) Upon the conclusion of the evidence and arguments in mitigation and aggravation:
(a) With regard to each statutory aggravating circumstance alleged by the state, the jury shall return a special verdict stating:
(i) Whether the statutory aggravating circumstance has been proven beyond a reasonable doubt; and
(ii) If the statutory aggravating circumstance has been proven beyond a reasonable doubt, whether all mitigating circumstances, when weighed against the aggravating circumstance, are sufficiently compelling that the death penalty would be unjust.
(b) If a jury has been waived, the court shall:
(i) Make written findings setting forth any statutory aggravating circumstance found beyond a reasonable doubt;
(ii) Set forth in writing any mitigating circumstances considered; and
(iii) Upon weighing all mitigating circumstances against each statutory aggravating circumstance separately, determine whether mitigating circumstances are found to be sufficiently compelling that the death penalty would be unjust and detail in writing its reasons for so finding.
(9) The following are statutory aggravating circumstances, at least one (1) of which must be found to exist beyond a reasonable doubt before a sentence of death can be imposed:
(a) The defendant was previously convicted of another murder.
(b) At the time the murder was committed the defendant also committed another murder.
(c) The defendant knowingly created a great risk of death to many persons.
(d) The murder was committed for remuneration or the promise of remuneration or the defendant employed another to commit the murder for remuneration or the promise of remuneration.
(e) The murder was especially heinous, atrocious or cruel, manifesting exceptional depravity.
(f) By the murder, or circumstances surrounding its commission, the defendant exhibited utter disregard for human life.
(g) The murder was committed in the perpetration of, or attempt to perpetrate, arson, rape, robbery, burglary, kidnapping or mayhem and the defendant killed, intended a killing, or acted with reckless indifference to human life.
(h) The murder was committed in the perpetration of, or attempt to perpetrate, lewd and lascivious conduct with a minor, sexual abuse of a child under sixteen (16) years of age, ritualized abuse of a child, sexual exploitation of a child, sexual battery of a minor child sixteen (16) or seventeen (17) years of age, or forcible sexual penetration by use of a foreign object, and the defendant killed, intended a killing, or acted with reckless indifference to human life.
(i) The defendant, by his conduct, whether such conduct was before, during or after the commission of the murder at hand, has exhibited a propensity to commit murder which will probably constitute a continuing threat to society.
(j) The murder was committed against a former or present peace officer, executive officer, officer of the court, judicial officer or prosecuting attorney because of the exercise of official duty or because of the victim’s former or present official status.
(k) The murder was committed against a witness or potential witness in a criminal or civil legal proceeding because of such proceeding.
[19-2515, R.S., R.C. & C.L., sec. 7992; C.S. sec. 9036; I.C.A. sec. 19-2415; am. 1977, ch. 154, sec. 4, p. 390; am. 1984, ch. 230, sec. 1, p. 549; am. 1995, ch. 140, sec. 1, p. 594; am. 1998, ch. 96, sec. 3, p. 344; am. 2000, ch. 287, sec. 1, p. 969; am. 2003, ch. 19, sec. 4, p. 72; am. 2003, ch. 136, sec. 3, p. 395; am. 2004, ch. 317, sec. 1, p. 889; am. 2005, ch. 152, sec. 1, p. 468; am. 2006, ch. 129, sec. 1, p. 375; am. 2021, ch. 196, sec. 22, p. 537; am. 2022, ch. 124, sec. 20, p. 453.]