INMATE 137439 PANDELI DARREL,
Pandeli killed Holly Iler after what he claimed was
an abortive sexual encounter. He slit her throat and mutilated her body.
After being captured and interrogated for that murder,
he confessed to killing Holly Humphreys more than a year before the Iler
He was tried separately for the murder of Humphreys,
and convicted of second-degree murder.
He was sentenced to death for Iler’s murder, but the
sentence was reversed. He was sentenced to death again in a new
Sources: State v. Pandeli, 200 Ariz. 365, 26 P.3d
1136 (Ariz. Sup. Ct. 2001)
ARIZONA SUPREME COURT
ORAL ARGUMENT CASE SUMMARY
STATE V. DARREL PETER PANDELI
On the morning of September 24, 1993, Holly Iler’s
nude body was found in an alley in central Phoenix. She had been beaten,
her throat had been slashed, and her nipples had been excised after her
death. Darrel Pandeli was convicted of the murder in 1997, and was
subsequently sentenced to death.
On appeal, this Court affirmed his death sentence.
State v. Pandeli (Pandeli I), 200 Ariz. 365, 26 P.3d 1136 (2001). In
2002, however, the United States Supreme Court remanded the case to this
Court for further consideration in light of Ring v. Arizona, 536 U.S.
584 (2002) (Ring II). Pandeli v. Arizona (Pandeli II), 536 U.S. 953
(2002) (mem.). This Court subsequently vacated Pandeli’s death sentence
and remanded for a new sentencing hearing before a jury. State v.
Pandeli (Pandeli III), 204 Ariz. 569, 65 P.3d 950 (2003) (supp. op.).
The jury sentencing in this case commenced in
February, 2006. The jury found the existence of two aggravating
circumstances: Pandeli had previously been convicted of the murder of
Teresa Humphreys, a serious offense, in violation of A.R.S. §
13-703(F)(2), and he murdered Holly Iler in an especially heinous and
depraved manner, in violation of A.R.S. § 13-703(F)(6). After finding
that the mitigation presented by Pandeli was not sufficiently
substantial to call for leniency, the jury determined that the death
penalty should be imposed. On April 20, 2006, the trial court sentenced
Pandeli to death by lethal injection. This automatic appeal followed.
Pandeli raises nine issues on appeal. In addition to
these issues, A.R.S. § 13-703.04 requires the Supreme Court to
independently review the aggravating and mitigating circumstances and
the propriety of the death sentence.
The appellate issues are as follows:
1. Did the trial court commit fundamental error by
failing to rule on the admissibility of the underlying facts of the
Humphreys murder before voir dire?
2. Did the trial court improperly allow the State to
introduce the underlying facts of the Humphreys murder to prove the
A.R.S. § 13-703(F)(2) aggravating circumstance?
3. Did the trial court abuse its discretion by
admitting in the aggravation phase photographs of Holly Iler’s body,
photographs of a Confederate flag, or a photograph of Pandeli that
showed his tattoos?
4. Is the A.R.S. § 13-703(F)(6) aggravating
circumstance unconstitutionally vague and overbroad?
5. Did the trial court abuse its discretion by
allowing the State to argue in the penalty phase that Pandeli knew right
6. Did the trial court err when it allowed the State
to introduce evidence of Pandeli’s prior bad acts, the underlying facts
of the Humphrey’s murder, testimony by Reyna Humphreys, or a book titled
“Battered Relationships” during the penalty phase?
7. Did the trial court abuse its discretion by
allowing the State to argue that Pandeli failed to establish a “causal
nexus” between his mitigation and the crime?
8. Did the penalty-phase jury instructions create an
unconstitutional presumption of death?
9. Is the portion of Arizona’s death penalty statute
that was struck down in Ring II severable from the remainder of the
State v. (Darrel) Pandeli (Pandeli IV),
215 Ariz. 514, 161 P.3d 557 ( 2007)
PROCEDURAL POSTURE: Pandeli was
convicted in Superior Court (Maricopa) of first-degree murder and
sentenced to death. This is his direct appeal following the Supreme
Court’s remand for jury sentencing due to Ring v. Arizona, 536 U.S. 584
(2002). See, State v. Pandeli (Pandeli III), 204 Ariz. 569, 65 P.3d 950
(F)(2) (PRIOR CONVICTION- SERIOUS OFFENSE) –
Pandeli’s 1996 prior conviction for second-degree murder was a "serious
offense" supporting the (F)(2) aggravator.
(F)(6) (ESPECIALLY HEINOUS, CRUEL OR DEPRAVED) –
Heinous or depraved: Upheld
Pandeli mutilated Iler’s body and relished the murder by taking
MITIGATING CIRCUMSTANCES: The Court
independently found the following mitigating circumstances:
Difficult childhood, including physical and sexual
Abuse of drugs and alcohol
Mental impairment and learning disabilities
Develop and maintain positive relationships
The Court found that Pandeli failed to establish a
causal nexus between this mitigation and the crime, and therefore
accorded it less weight. Although the mitigation evidence was not
insubstantial, the aggravating circumstances were also substantial,
especially the fact that Pandeli had been convicted of another murder.
In light of the prior murder and the brutality of the Iler murder, the
Court found the mitigation evidence was not sufficiently substantial to
call for leniency.
JUDGMENT: Death sentence affirmed.
Darrel Peter Pandeli