Court of Appeals of Arizona, First Division, Department B
Petition for Special Action Yavapai County Superior Court Cause No. P1300CR201100945 The Honorable Tina R. Ainley, Judge
David Stoller and Shaw Law Firm P.L.L.C. By Michael A. Shaw Attorneys for Petitioner
Sheila Polk, Yavapai County Attorney By Steven A. Young, Deputy County Attorney Attorneys for Real Party in Interest
RANDALL M. HOWE, Judge
¶1 This special action arises from the trial court's refusal to conduct a hearing pursuant to Arizona Rule of Criminal Procedure 13.5(c) and Chronis v. Steinle, 220 Ariz. 559, 208 P.3d 210 (2009). We accept jurisdiction because the issue raised involves a challenge to grand jury proceedings that will not be reviewable on appeal. State v. Moody, 208 Ariz. 424, 439-40 ¶ 31, 94 P.3d 1119, 1134-35 (2004); Francis v. Sanders, 222 Ariz. 423, 426 ¶ 9, 215 P.3d 397, 400 (App. 2009). We decline to grant relief, however, because the trial court did not err in refusing to conduct the hearing.
FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
¶2 On September 28, 2011, the Yavapai County Grand Jury indicted Juan Carlos Vicente Sanchez and three others on first-degree murder, kidnapping, conspiracy to commit first-degree murder, and conspiracy to commit kidnapping, as well as several other felonies. On December 15, 2011, Sanchez moved for a redetermination of probable cause. While the motion was pending, the State filed its Notice of Intent to Seek the Death Penalty and List of Aggravating Circumstances.
¶3 The trial court granted the motion for redetermination of probable cause and remanded the case to the Grand Jury. On April 20, 2012, the State presented evidence to the Grand Jury that probable cause existed to charge Sanchez with the same offenses. The Grand Jury considered the evidence and issued a True Bill against Sanchez on the charged offenses. The State then asked the Grand Jury to find that probable cause existed to allege the aggravating circumstances that would make Sanchez eligible for a death sentence. After considering the evidence, the Grand Jury issued a True Bill regarding each of the alleged aggravating circumstances.
¶4 Sanchez again moved for a redetermination of probable cause, arguing that the State had presented false, misleading, and inadequate evidence to the Grand Jury on the charged offenses. He also argued that the State had erred in asking the Grand Jury to determine whether probable cause existed for the aggravating circumstances. He claimed that he was entitled to an evidentiary hearing pursuant to Rule 13.5(c) and our supreme court's decision in Chronis v. Steinle to determine probable cause on the aggravating circumstances.
¶5 The State opposed the motion, arguing that the evidence presented to the Grand Jury was not false or misleading and that nothing prohibited it from presenting aggravating circumstances to the Grand Jury for a probable cause determination. The State maintained that an evidentiary hearing pursuant to Rule 13.5(c) and Chronis was necessary only when probable cause on the aggravating circumstances had not yet been determined.
¶6 The trial court heard argument on the motion and agreed with the State that Rule 13.5(c) and Chronis did not require a separate hearing on probable cause on the aggravating circumstances if the Grand Jury had already determined it: "I do think a probable cause determination is a probable cause determination." On October 30, 2012, Sanchez formally requested a Chronis hearing and disclosure of the evidence supporting the aggravating circumstances, and the trial court denied the motion as moot because the Grand Jury had already determined probable cause. This special action followed.
¶7 We review the trial court's denial of a motion for redetermination of probable cause for an abuse of discretion, Francis, 222 Ariz. at 426 ¶ 10, 215 P.3d at 400, but we review the interpretation of rules of procedure de novo, State v. Gutierrez, 229 Ariz. 573, 576 ¶ 19, 278 P.3d 1276, 1279 (2012). The trial court did not err in refusing to conduct an evidentiary hearing under Rule 13.5(c) and Chronis to determine probable cause on the alleged aggravating circumstances because the Grand Jury had already determined the issue by returning a True Bill on the circumstances.
¶8 A review of Rule 13.5(c)'s history shows why this is so. In 2002, the United States Supreme Court held in Ring v. Arizona that because the existence of any aggravating circumstance set forth in Arizona's death penalty statute makes a defendant eligible for a death sentence, the Sixth Amendment requires that a jury determine beyond a reasonable doubt whether an aggravating circumstance exists. 536 U.S. 584, 606 (2002). In light of this pronouncement, the issue arose whether the State was required to allege the aggravating circumstances in the charging document and present them to a grand jury for a probable cause determination. Chronis, 220 Ariz. at 562 ¶ 14, 208 P.3d at 213. Our supreme court resolved this issue by adopting Rule 13.5(c). That rule provides that "[t]he filing of a notice to seek the death penalty with noticed aggravating circumstances shall amend the charging document, and no further pleading needs to be filed, " but also that "[a] defendant may challenge the legal sufficiency of an alleged aggravating circumstance by motion filed pursuant to Rule 16." See also Chronis, 220 Ariz. at 562 ¶ 14, 208 P.3d at 213 (discussing Rule 13.5's history). Thus, under Rule 13.5(c), aggravating circumstances need not be presented in the charging ...