- Associated Press - Thursday, May 28, 2015

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - The California Supreme Court on Thursday tossed out a Los Angeles man’s death penalty while upholding his first-degree murder conviction.

The court ruled that prosecutors introduced a previous murder conviction that was improperly obtained during the penalty phase of Tommy Adrian Trujeque’s 1999 trial.

The jury sentenced Trujeque to death for killing his cousin’s boyfriend in 1986. He believed the boyfriend was abusing his cousin. He was also convicted of second-degree murder for helping to kill another man after a gambling dispute.

Prosecutors told jurors that the two murders, plus another one Trujeque was convicted of committing in 1969, showed he was an unrepentant killer who deserved the death penalty.

A unanimous Supreme Court ruled that jurors shouldn’t have been told of the 1969 murder of a beer deliveryman, which Trujeque committed when he was a teen. Trujeque was convicted as an adult of second-degree murder in the death, for the 1969 death of a beer deliveryman he robbed. That conviction was obtained after a juvenile court judge previously found him guilty of manslaughter.

The Supreme Court said that conviction was invalid because it punished Trujeque twice for a single crime, known as double jeopardy.

The court ordered the Los Angeles County district attorney to hold another trial to determine Trujeque’s sentence for killing his cousin’s boyfriend in 1986.

The district attorney’s office didn’t immediately respond to an email inquiry.


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