Astorga Death Penalty Trial Moves Forward

May 15, 2012

A Santa Fe jury has decided that a man convicted of killing a Bernalillo County Sheriff's deputy is guilty of aggravated circumstances in the murder. The guilty decision Tuesday means that the jury now has to hear testimony about whether Michael Astorga should get the death penalty for the crime. The hearing is slated to begin Wednesday in Santa Fe.

Astorga was convicted of the 2006 killing of Deputy James McGrane during a traffic stop. He faces life in prison or death, even though New Mexico repealed the death penalty in 2009. He is eligible for the death penalty since the crime occurred before the repeal. Astorga's attorney had argued that there was no evidence that Astorga's pickup truck was ever pulled over the night McGrane was killed.