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James Erin McKINNEY





Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Robberies
Number of victims: 2
Date of murders: March 10/23, 1991
Date of birth: June 4, 1967
Victims profile: Christine Mertens, 40 / James McClain, 65
Method of murder: Shooting
Location: Maricopa County, Arizona, USA
Status: Sentenced to death on July 23, 1993

Date of Birth: June 4, 1967
Defendant: Caucasian
Victim: Caucasian

On March 10, 1991, McKinney and his half-brother, Chutes Michael Hedlund, brutally beat and shot 40-year-old Christine Mertens in her home, during the commission of a burglary.

Mrs. Mertens' son found his mother dead, lying face down on the living room floor. McKinney and Hedlund had ransacked Mrs. Mertens' bedroom and rifled through her purse.

On March 23, 1991, McKinney and Hedlund burglarized the home of 65-year-old James McClain and shot him in the head while he was asleep in his bed. McKinney and Hedlund ransacked Mr. McClain's home and stole personal property, including several guns.

McKinney was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to death for the murders of Mrs. Mertens and Mr. McClain. In addition, McKinney was convicted of two counts of burglary in the first degree, and one count of theft.


    Presiding Judge: Steven D. Sheldon
    Prosecutor:  Louis Stalzer
    Start of Trial: October 13, 1992
    Verdict:  November 12, 1992
    Sentencing: July 23, 1993

Aggravating Circumstances:

    Prior conviction for which life imprisonment or death was imposable
    Pecuniary gain
    Especially cruel, heinous, or depraved

Mitigating Circumstances:

    Traumatic childhood


    Hedlund v. Sheldon, 173 Ariz. 143, 840 P.2d 1008 (1992).
    Same v. McKinney, 195 Ariz. 567, 917 P.2d 1214 (1996).



James Erin McKinney



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