DEATH PENALTY PROCEEDINGS -
HEINOUS, ATROCIOUS, CRUEL DEFINED
The State has alleged that the murder was "especially heinous, atrocious, or cruel". This aggravating circumstance is not established unless the State proves beyond a reasonable doubt:
First, that the murder was preceded by either torture of the victim or serious physical abuse of the victim; and
Second, that the facts and circumstances of this case establish that the murder was heinous, atrocious, or cruel.
You are instructed that the term "torture" means the infliction of either great physical anguish or extreme mental cruelty. You are further instructed that you cannot find that "serious physical abuse" or "great physical anguish" occurred unless you also find that the victim experienced conscious physical suffering prior to his/her death.
In addition, you are instructed that the term "heinous" means extremely wicked or shockingly evil; the term "atrocious" means outrageously wicked and vile; and the term "cruel" means pitiless, designed to inflict a high degree of pain, or utter indifference to or enjoyment of the suffering of others.
The Court of Criminal Appeals has directed trial courts to use this instruction in all future capital murder trials where the State alleges the heinous, atrocious, or cruel aggravator. DeRosa v. State, 2004 OK CR 19, ¶ 96, 89 P.3d 1156.
| Service provided by the IS department of the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals
Email our webmaster with any of your comments or suggestions.