The US Supreme Court on December 11 struggled to decide what kind of new sentencing a death row inmate was entitled to after a federal appeals court ruled that the trial judge who had condemned him to death failed to take account of evidence of horrific physical abuse the inmate had endured as a child.

The appeal of James Erin McKinney could affect as many as 15 of the 104 death row inmates in the US state of Arizona.

McKinney wants the Supreme Court to throw out his sentences in the 1991 killings of Christine Mertens and Jim McClain so that a jury can decide whether he should face death or life in prison. He was first sentenced to death by a judge.

US Supreme Court hears case of death row inmate for lessening sentence on basis of physical abuse endured in childhood

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