Saturday, Apr 25, 2015
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Tison V Arizona

They escaped in Donald Tison's 1969 Lincoln Continental, but the next day, one of the Lincoln's tires blew out on a stretch of road not far from the California border, near Quartzsite. Marine Sgt. John Lyons, 24, of Yuma, traveling with his wife, son, and niece, on his way to visit family in Nebraska, stopped to help. Five days later, his body was found along with those of his wife, Donnelda, 23, his 22-month-old son Christopher, and his fifteen-year-old niece, Theresa Tyson.

Donald Tison, who was driving the van, was killed at the scene; the others fled on foot. Raymond and Ricky and Greenawalt were quickly caught, but Gary Tison escaped into the desert. Over 300 police officers and hundreds of volunteers searched for him, but he eluded them. He did not elude the August desert - he died of exposure. His body was found eleven days after the shootout.

Greenawalt and the surviving Tisons were charged with 92 crimes, including four counts of murder. No charges were brought for the murder of the Judges, but Colorado authorities closed the cases when the surviving gang members were convicted in Arizona.

The two remaining Tison brothers were tried individually for capital murder in the deaths of the Lyonses. The murder charges were predicated on Arizona's felony-murder statute, which provided that killings that occurred during a robbery or kidnapping were first-degree, death-eligible murder. The Tison brothers were convicted. At a separate sentencing hearing, three aggravating factors were proved: the Tisons had created a grave risk of death to others, the murders were committed for pecuniary gain, and the murders were especially heinous, cruel, or depraved. The Arizona Supreme Court upheld the death sentences. Then the Supreme Court decided Enmund. The Tison brothers brought a collateral attack on their sentences, claiming that Enmund required their death sentences to be struck down. The Arizona Supreme Court rejected this argument, asserting that the dictates of Enmund had been satisfied because the intent requirement of Enmund could be inferred from the fact that death was a foreseeable result of participating in a dangerous felony.

Later, the death penalties of Ricky and Raymond Tison were reduced to life sentences because they were both under twenty at the time of the crimes. Greenawalt was executed in 1997.

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