NM High Court To Hear Astorga Death Penalty Case

Albuquerque, New Mexico – SANTA FE, N.M. (KRWG) The state's highest court is scheduled to hear arguments about whether an Albuqrque man convicted of murdering of a Bernalillo County sheriff's deputy can be sentenced to death.

A defense attorney for Michael Astorga is slated Thursday to ask the New Mexico Supreme Court to allow him to present evidence about New Mexico's repeal of the death penalty when jurors consider the sentencing.

A jury is set to meet next month to decide whether to impose the death penalty on Astorga for the 2006 killing of Deputy James McGrane Jr.

Defense lawyer Gary Mitchell says the repeal of the death penalty in 2009 should be a mitigating factor for the jury.

But the state says the repeal doesn't matter since prosecutors said they would seek the death penalty in 2006.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. KRWG