Gregg v. Georgia

428 U.S. 153 (1976)

Facts

Gregg (D) and Allen were hitchhiking and got picked up by Simmons and Moore. According to Allen’s testimony, D shot and killed them both. D was convicted of both murder and robbery. The jury was instructed that it could only consider a death sentence if it found beyond a reasonable doubt at least one of three aggravating circumstances. The jury found that murder was committed for money and that it was committed during the course of a capital felony. Gregg (D) was sentenced to death under the post-Furman statute and challenged that statute. The Georgia Supreme Court affirmed the death sentences for the murder but overturned the sentences for the robberies. D appealed; the death sentences imposed were cruel and unusual punishment. In Furman v. Georgia, 408 U.S. 238, the Supreme Court held that the imposition of the death penalty under Georgia law was unconstitutional because the statute allowed the imposition of the death penalty in a capricious and arbitrary manner. The Georgia statute was amended. The amended statute allowed the death penalty for six types of crimes and specified ten aggravating circumstances; the jury must find the existence of one of those circumstances beyond a reasonable doubt before imposing the death penalty for murder. There was an automatic appeal of all death sentences to the state supreme court under the new statute and if that court affirmed the penalty, its decision must include references to similar cases it had considered.