471 U.S. 1030 (1985)

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U.S. Supreme Court

BOYD v. NORTH CAROLINA , 471 U.S. 1030 (1985)

471 U.S. 1030

Arthur Martin BOYD, Jr.
No. 84-5819

Supreme Court of the United States

April 15, 1985

On petition for writ of certiorari to the Supreme Court of North Carolina.

The petition for a writ of certiorari is denied.

Justice MARSHALL, with whom Justice BRENNAN joins, dissenting.

Petitioner was sentenced to death after a hearing in which the judge prevented the jury from considering evidence that it might well have considered highly relevant to petitioner's motive at the time of his crime and to the relationship of his character and record to the offense he had committed. As a result, the jury was called on to decide whether death was the appropriate punishment but was deprived of the evidence petitioner offered in mitigation of his crime. The death sentence must thus be vacated, for it stands in glaring conflict with one of the most basic requirements of the Eighth Amendment-" 'that the sentencer . . . not be precluded from considering, as a mitigating factor, any aspect of

Page 471 U.S. 1030 , 1031

a defendant's character or record and any of the circumstances of the offense that the defendant proffers as a basis for a sentence less than death.' " Eddings v. Oklahoma, 455 U.S. 104, 110, 874 (1982) (quoting Lockett v. Ohio, 438 U.S. 586, 604, 2964 (1978)).1


Petitioner Boyd was convicted of murdering his former girlfriend after unsuccessfully attempting a reconciliation. They had lived together for three years but had separated several months prior to the murder. On the day of the murder, Boyd met the victim at a local shopping mall. They sat and talked quietly for some time, sitting in the midst of a church- sponsored event run by the victim's father, a local pastor. Eventually, the victim's mother approached her daughter and said it was time to leave, but Boyd asked the daughter to stay and talk to him a little longer. After talking some more, the victim said she would leave. She was also reported to have said that if Boyd was going to kill her "he should hurry up and get it over with." Boyd took out a knife but also assured her that he would not hurt her. He then began to stab her rapidly and repeatedly until bystanders dragged the two apart. The victim died from the multiple stab wounds.

At his capital sentencing hearing, Boyd offered in mitigation expert testimony by a sociologist, Dr. Humphrey, who had interviewed Boyd and previously had done academic research into the behavioral dynamics of suicide and homicide. Most relevantly, Dr. Humphrey had coauthored a study of people who had murdered their relatives or intimates. The trial judge excluded the entirety of his testimony. [471 U.S. 1030 , 1032]

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