FARMINGTON, N.M. (AP) — A judge has upheld the death sentence for one of only two New Mexico death row inmates, a Farmington man condemned to die for a killing that occurred before New Mexico generally abolished the death penalty in 2009.
District Judge Karen Townsend on Wednesday denied a defense motion to overturn the death sentence of 39-year-old Robert Ray Fry for the 2000 killing of 36-year-old Betty Lee. She was stabbed in the chest and hit in the head with a sledgehammer.
Townsend’s decision, made after a hearing in Aztec, will automatically be appealed to the New Mexico Supreme Court, The Daily Times (http://bit.ly/15OEDqC ) reported.
Fry did not attend the hearing in Aztec. He is incarcerated at the Penitentiary of New Mexico, a maximum-security prison near Santa Fe, where he is also serving life sentences in three other killings.
His attorneys argued his sentence should be life without parole because New Mexico abolished the death penalty in 2009.
“It is repugnant to the federal and state constitution to allow this case to go forward with the death sentence intact, while persons who commit the same crimes on or after July 1, 2009, will be spared,” defense attorneys Kathleen McGarry and Jacquelyn Robins said in their motion.
Prosecutors said the Legislature decided that the change didn’t abolish previously imposed death sentences and that Fry’s death sentence should be carried out because a jury imposed it.
“It was the jury’s decision, and they went through the process. It was the people that spoke, not the politicians.” San Juan County District Attorney Rick Tedrow.
Fry’s life sentences are for the 1996 killings of Matthew Trecker and Joseph Fleming, both of Farmington, and for the 1998 killing of Donald Tsosie of Ganado, Ariz.