"Our View: The cost of capital punishment," is the Sierra Vista Herald editorial published on December 26. It's been republished by several Arizona newspapers.
Regardless of your opinion on whether Arizona should or should not have the death penalty, what cannot be denied is the cost of this punishment to taxpayers.
This question is particularly relevant to Cochise County in the coming year, which has suspects in custody charged with first degree murder who may eventually face the death penalty at the end of long and expensive jury trials. The first of these is Robert Sappington, charged in the murder of Devvra Keyes in Benson, in 2010. His trial is scheduled to begin in March, however the case has been continued several times, and may be again in the future.
Cochise County has nine capital cases pending trial, dating back to 2008, all of which promise to cost taxpayers millions of dollars to bring to a conclusion.
That’s small potatoes compared to Maricopa County, however, which reports 514 pending death penalty cases.
Eventually, Arizona taxpayers will raise the question of how much these cases cost in court time, legal expense and incarceration.