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Darrel Peter PANDELI





Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Rape - Mutilation
Number of victims: 2
Date of murders: 1992 / 1993
Date of birth: November 23, 1964
Victims profile: Teresa Humphreys / Holly Iler
Method of murder: Stabbing with knife
Location: Maricopa County, Arizona, USA
Status: Sentenced to death on April 20, 2006

The Supreme Court of Arizona



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 murder.

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 sentencing proceeding.

Sources: State v. Pandeli, 200 Ariz. 365, 26 P.3d 1136 (Ariz. Sup. Ct. 2001)





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 from wrong?

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 statute?


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 (2003).


Pandeli’s 1996 prior conviction for second-degree murder was a "serious offense" supporting the (F)(2) aggravator.


Heinous or depraved: Upheld
Pandeli mutilated Iler’s body and relished the murder by taking souvenirs.

MITIGATING CIRCUMSTANCES:  The Court independently found the following mitigating circumstances:

  • Difficult childhood, including physical and sexual abuse

  • Abuse of drugs and alcohol

  • Mental impairment and learning disabilities

  • Model prisoner

  • 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



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