Tuesday (March 27), in an example of how legal language often conflicts with real-world language, the Arizona Supreme Court unanimously threw out James Granvil Wallace’s death sentences for the 1984 murders of Gabriel and Anna Insalaco, aged 12 and 16 respectively. The children were both bludgeoned to death, hit at least ten times with an 18-inch pipe wrench (Gabriel) and a baseball bat (Anna) baseball bat. When the baseball bat broke, he finally killed Anna by impaling her with the broken bat.
He later killed their mother, his former girlfriend, with the pipe wrench.
Wallace was sentenced to life imprisonment for Susan Insalaco’s murder, and death for the children’s murder, the aggravating circumstance being the “heinous nature” of those killings.
Yesterday’s ruling stated that legally, a heinous murder required that the killer “relished” the crime, used gratuitous violence, or inflicted torture — and that while Wallace’s crimes were “atrocious” and “senseless,” the prosecution didn’t disprove his claim that he inflicted only as many blows as he believed necessary to kill his victims.
I thought [Anna] would die with one blow… like in the movies… I wanted to put her out of her misery -from Wallace’s confession, one day after the murders
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© 2012 by Bill Bickel unless otherwise noted.