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David Scott DETRICH





Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Hitchhiking - Kidnapping - Rape
Number of victims: 1
Date of murder: November 4, 1989
Date of birth: April 20, 1959
Victim profile: A 38-year-old female
Method of murder: Slitting her throat
Location: Pima County, Arizona, USA
Status: Sentenced to death on February 7, 1991

Date of Birth: April 20, 1959
Defendant: Caucasian
Victim: Black

On the evening of November 4, 1989, David Detrich and codefendant Charlton traveled to Tucson from Benson, Arizona.

They picked up the victim, a 38-year-old female, who was hitchhiking somewhere in the Tucson area. Charlton then drove Detrich and the victim, a known drug addict, to a residential location where they bought $75 worth of cocaine.

They went to the victim's home and the victim went into a bedroom and returned with a hypodermic syringe. Detrich became extremely angry when he realized that the cocaine was "bad" and could not be intravenously injected.

He threatened the victim and blamed her for the poor quality of cocaine. Detrich demanded that the victim have sex with him, but the victim ignored him and pretended to sleep.

Detrich then placed a knife to her throat and continued to threaten her and demanded sex. While holding her at knife point, Detrich forced the victim into Charlton's car and told Charlton to drive out of town.

Detrich raped the victim in the front seat and stabbed her numerous times before slitting her throat.


    Presiding Judge: Michael Alfred
    Prosecutor: Ken Peasley
    Start of Trial: October 23, 1990
    Verdict:  November 2, 1990
    Sentencing: February 7, 1991

Aggravating Circumstances:

    Especially heinous/cruel/depraved

Mitigating Circumstances:

    None sufficient to call for leniency


    State v. Detrich, 178 Ariz. 380, 873 P.2d 1302 (1994)
    State v. Detrich, 188 Ariz. 57, 932 P.2d 1328 (1997).

April, 23, 2003. A Warrant of Execution has been issued by the Arizona District Court for the execution of DAVID SCOTT DETRICH ADC#083703 scheduled for June 3, 2003.

May, 6, 2003. A Stay of Execution has been issued by the US District Court in the execution of DAVID SCOTT DETRICH, scheduled for June 3, 2003.


State v. Detrich (Detrich II), 188 Ariz. 57, 932 P.2d 1328 (1997)


The defendant was convicted in Superior Court (Pima) of first-degree murder, kidnapping, and sexual abuse. He was sentenced to death for the murder, but on direct appeal, the Arizona Supreme Court reversed the murder and kidnapping convictions and remanded for a new trial. State v. Detrich, 178 Ariz. 380, 873 P.2d 1302 (1994). At the retrial, defendant was convicted of first-degree murder and kidnapping, and was sentenced to death for the murder. This is the defendant's automatic, direct appeal to the Arizona Supreme Court.


(F)(6) (Heinous, Cruel or Depraved) - UPHELD

Cruel: Upheld. "In determining whether a murder was especially cruel, we must view the entire murder scenario, not just the final act that killed the victim." 188 Ariz. at 67.
Mental Anguish: Found. Testimony established that the victim appeared terrified as defendant told her she was going to die and dragged her to the car with a knife to her throat. The Court found that the victim suffered mental distress, noting that "anyone in the victim's situation would have been uncertain as to his or her ultimate fate." 188 Ariz. at 68.
Physical Pain: Found. The Court found "overwhelming evidence" of the victim's consciousness throughout the crime, including defensive wounds on her hands. The victim had forty cutting wounds on her hands, chest, face, neck, abdomen, and thigh. The cut to her throat extended from ear to ear, slashing through her voice box, esophagus, and into her cerebral column. "After her throat was slit, she attempted to answer defendant's questions, but was able only to gurgle in response." 188 Ariz. at 67. The victim also had blunt force injuries to her nose, jaw, and scalp, as well as scraping and tearing of the lining of her mouth. The Court found that "[s]he must have suffered excruciating pain before she died." 188 Ariz. at 68.

Heinous or Depraved: Upheld.
Gratuitous Violence: Found. The Court held that only three stab wounds were potentially fatal, leaving thirty-seven unnecessary and excessive wounds, which constituted gratuitous violence.
Relishing: Found. "Defendant's statement to [co-defendant], `It's dead, but it's warm. Do you want a shot at it?' clearly shows that defendant relished the murder. The trial court found that this statement showed an abhorrent lack of regard for human life, and we agree." 188 Ariz. at 68.
Senselessness: Found. Defendant was seeking repayment for money he wasted on bad drugs. Murdering the victim was not only unnecessary to achieve this goal, it was counterproductive.
Helplessness: Found. Defendant held a knife to the throat of the unarmed and partially clothed victim while he dragged her to the car. She had no means of escape. While in the car, defendant was on top of her, abusing and stabbing her, and she was unable to defend herself.


The Court found that the following mitigating circumstances existed, but were not sufficiently substantial to call for leniency:

(G)(1) Significant Impairment [alcohol use at time of crime]

The Court found the defendant failed to prove by a preponderance of the evidence the existence of the following as mitigating circumstances:

Sentencing Disparity [disparity explained by differences in culpability]

JUDGMENT: Convictions and sentences affirmed.


David Scott Detrich



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