State asks SCOTUS to uphold death penalty for convicted Tucson cop killer
John Montenegro Cruz was found guilty of killing officer Patrick Kent Hardesty in 2003
TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday, Nov. 1, heard arguments in the case against a man convicted of killing a Tucson police officer in 2003.
In 2005, a jury found John Montenegro Cruz guilty of first-degree murder in the death of officer Patrick Kent Hardesty. Cruz was later sentenced to death for fatally shooting Hardesty.
Cruz’s attorney claims his client was not allowed to tell the jury that if he had been given a life sentence, he would have been ineligible for parole.
The attorney argued that if the jury had known that, Cruz may have been spared the death penalty. He also claimed that the Arizona Supreme Court violated SCOTUS precedent.
The Arizona Attorney General’s Office asked SCOTUS to uphold the death penalty, claiming the Arizona Supreme Court’s ruling was consistent with other cases.
“Identifying and supporting the true victims of crime is essential to the administration of justice,” said Attorney General Mark Brnovich. “In this case, a police officer was murdered, and his family and community should not have to endure endless attempts by the perpetrator to avoid responsibility for his heinous crime.”
It could be several months before a decision is announced in the case.
On May 26, 2003, Cruz was involved in a hit-and-run crash.
Cruz was tracked down to a nearby apartment complex. When officers approached, he ran away.
Cruz then shot Hardesty five times at close range, according to Brnovich.
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