The U.S. Supreme Court won’t take up an Idaho double murder court case, rejecting requests from both Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden and the man convicted of the two murders, Dale Shackelford. The case will now head back to a court in Latah County, to determine Shackelford’s sentencing.
The nation’s highest court rejected requests from Wasden and Shackelford on March 7. Four of the nine Supreme Court justices must agree to hear a case for the court to take it up.
“This means the decision of the Idaho Supreme Court ordering that Shackelford be resentenced by a jury is final,” Shackelford’s attorney Leo Griffard told IdahoReporter.com via e-mail. “It is now up to Latah County to decide how to proceed.”
The request from Wasden followed an Idaho Supreme Court decision that Shackelford’s death sentence be reconsidered. Shackelford was found guilty of murder for the 1999 deaths of his ex-wife and her boyfriend, but the Idaho Supreme Court ruled that the jury in Latah County didn’t convict Shackelford of committing both murders at the same time. That distinction matters, because the double murder was an aggravating factor that triggered the death penalty.
Wasden’s spokesman Bob Cooper said he wasn’t surprised by the high court’s decision. “The Court receives several thousand petitions each year and hears fewer than 100 cases,” Cooper said via e-mail. “That doesn’t mean the cases the Court does not accept are not important, just that the Court has to choose a small number of cases from a large universe.”
Shackelford also asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review the case, but was rejected by the court.
The U.S. Supreme Court did hear an Idaho death penalty case in 2008, siding with the state in the case involving Max Hoffman. A later court ruling gave Hoffman a term of life without parole.