BAKER v. MISSOURI
Annotate this Case
459 U.S. 1183 (1983)
U.S. Supreme Court
BAKER v. MISSOURI , 459 U.S. 1183 (1983)
459 U.S. 1183
Robert BAKER, petitioner,
Supreme Court of the United States
January 24, 1983
On petition for writ of certiorari to the Supreme Court of Missouri.
The petition for writ of certiorari is denied.
Justice BRENNAN, dissenting.
Adhering to my views that the death penalty is in all circumstances cruel and unusual punishment prohibited by the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments, Gregg v. Georgia, 428
U.S. 153, 227, 2950 (1976), I would grant certiorari and vacate the death sentence in this case.
Justice MARSHALL, dissenting from denial of certiorari.
I continue to adhere to my view that the death penalty is unconstitutional in all circumstances, and would grant certiorari and vacate petitioner's death sentence on this basis alone. However, even if I accepted the prevailing view that the death penalty can constitutionally be imposed under certain circumstances, I would grant certiorari and vacate the death sentence because the Missouri Supreme Court improperly upheld the sentence on the basis of an aggravating circumstance that had never been considered by the sentencer.
Petitioner Robert Baker was convicted of capital murder in the Circuit Court of the City of St. Louis. The victim, a police officer assigned as an undercover agent, was dressed in street clothes at the time of the shooting. When his body was discovered in the front seat of his unmarked police car, his police badge was in his wallet.
At the sentencing stage, the jury was instructed that it may impose the death penalty if it found that the murder "was committed against a peace officer while engaged in the performance of his official duty." 1 The jury was not instructed that it also had to find that petitioner knew or should have known that the victim was a police officer. The jury imposed the sentence of death solely on the basis of this aggravating circumstance. [Footnote 2]
The Missouri Supreme Court affirmed the conviction and the death sentence, with two judges dissenting. 636 S.W. [459 U.S. 1183 , 1185]