Fourth District Judge Deborah Bail reinstated the death penalty for Michael Jauhola Tuesday, saying there was no reason to keep him off Idaho’s Death Row since he voluntarily waived his right to a re-sentencing hearing in front of a jury.
Bail originally sentenced Jauhola to death in 2001 for beating fellow inmate John Alfred Williams to death with a baseball bat in 1998.
That death sentence was vacated by Bail two years later following a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that juries — not judges — must decide whether to impose the death penalty.
The Idaho Legislature — like those in several other states whose death penalty statutes were overturned by the decision — adopted a new scheme in 2003 requiring juries, not judges, to impose the death penalty.
Since his death sentence was still on the state appeal level at the time of the Supreme Court decision, Jauhola had the right to ask for a jury hearing.
That jury would have had to determine if there were aggravating factors — like a propensity to commit murder or a reckless disregard for human life — needed to sentence Jauhola to death.
But Jauhola waived his right to that hearing and signed a waiver acknowledging that he knew Bail had already found a “statutory aggravating circumstance beyond a reasonable doubt” that would qualify him for the death penalty. So Bail ruled this week that he should go back on Idaho’s Death Row.
“Now that Mr. Jauhola has waived his right to be sentenced by a jury, the reason for vacating the original death sentence is not present,” Bail said in her order. “Therefore, the (death sentence is) reinstated.”
Jauhola’s attorneys have argued that some information from the pre-sentencing reports Bail used to arrive at her decision is inadmissable hearsay. They also question Bail’s finding that Jauhola met the aggravating circumstance that he had a propensity to commit murder.
Bail ruled Tuesday that those arguments do not address the issue of “whether or not the court may reinstate its former findings, but instead substantively attack the content of those findings,” and “were not relevant at this procedural point.”
Bail said Jauhola is free to raise those concerns in a motion for sentence reduction under Idaho Criminal Rule 35. Jauhola has until June 1 to file such a motion, and if he does, Bail said she would schedule an evidentiary hearing.
According to court documents, the now 40-year-old Jauhola hit fellow inmate Williams in the head with a baseball bat several times during an exercise break on April 16, 1998. Williams, 38, died shortly after the attack.
Jauhola was in the Idaho Maximum Security Institution for a voluntary manslaughter conviction for the October 1993 stabbing death of 17-year-old Geraldo Malacara.http://www.idahostatesman.com/2010/05/12/1190144/death-penalty-reinstated-for-michael.html