N.M. Supreme Court upholds murder conviction in 'warrior gene' case




  • In US
  • 2021-02-26 00:34:00Z
  • By Tribune Publishing

Feb. 25-The New Mexico Supreme Court has upheld the murder conviction of a man whose public defender argued he had a genetic predisposition to impulsive violence sometimes referred to as the "warrior gene."

Anthony Blas Yepez was convicted of second-degree murder in 2015 for the 2012 beating death of 75-year-old George Ortiz of Santa Fe.

After killing Ortiz - his girlfriend's stepgrandfather - during an argument, Yepez, then 26, doused Ortiz in cooking oil and set his body on fire.

Yepez's public defender, Ian Loyd, sought to introduce evidence at trial that Yepez's history of childhood abuse and genetic makeup made him less able to control his violent impulses and incapable of forming the intent to deliberately kill Ortiz.

But state District Judge Mary Marlowe Sommer rejected the argument and didn't allow jurors to hear expert testimony on the topic. She said she felt "iffy' about whether it was "reliable enough to prove what it proposes to prove."

The theory had been introduced in criminal proceedings fewer than a dozen times worldwide at the time.

Following his conviction, Yepez appealed to the state Court of Appeals, which found Sommer had erred when she excluded the testimony. But the court said the error was harmless because Yepez was convicted of second-degree murder, which didn't require a finding of premeditation.

The Attorney General's office appealed the ruling, asking the State Supreme Court to vacate the portion of the appellate opinion finding Sommer erred in keeping out the warrior gene testimony. He argued it would create confusion in state and federal courts going forward.

The Supreme Court did just that in its ruling issued Thursday. The decision reversed the Court of Appeals opinion that Sommer should have allowed the testimony and rejected Yepez's request for a new trial.

The Supreme Court found "the district court was within its discretion to exclude as lacking in scientific reliability an opinion that Yepez is predisposed to impulsive violent behavior," a spokesman for the Administrative Office of the Court's wrote in a news release Thursday.

COMMENTS

More Related News

Why
Why 'Equity' Is a Bad Fit for Our Legal System

Some states have attempted to allocate COVID relief funds on the basis of race. Fortune 500 companies such as Coca-Cola have announced that they will...

Ramsey Clark, attorney general under Johnson, dies at 93
Ramsey Clark, attorney general under Johnson, dies at 93

Ramsey Clark, the attorney general in the Johnson administration who became an outspoken activist for unpopular causes and a harsh critic of U.S. policy, has...

Plea deal and sentencing in Rosewood death ends high-profile case after 3 years
Plea deal and sentencing in Rosewood death ends high-profile case after 3 years
  • US
  • 2021-04-10 18:34:28Z

The killing of a beloved resident and the questions around another well-known neighborhood figure rocked Columbia's Rosewood community three years ago.

Techies give an old fashioned Supreme Court decent marks in coding case
Techies give an old fashioned Supreme Court decent marks in coding case

Programmers say the Supreme Court, often teased for its ambivalence toward technology, got it (mostly) right in describing some nuances of software.

Biden unveils commission to study changes at the Supreme Court after pressure from progressives
Biden unveils commission to study changes at the Supreme Court after pressure from progressives

The push for change at the Supreme Court comes as liberals have stewed over President Trump's three nominations, giving conservatives a 6-3 edge.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *

Cancel reply

Comments

Top News: US