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Death Penalty Trial Begins for Astorga

Opening arguments are slated to begin Friday in what could be the state's last death penalty trial.  A jury will hear arguments from lawyers in Santa Fe on whether Michael Astorga should face the death penalty or life in prison. Astorga was convicted of killing Bernalillo County Sheriff's Deputy James McGrane Jr. during a traffic stop in 2006.

New Mexico repealed the death penalty in 2009. The state Supreme Court ruled that Astorga was eligible for the death penalty since the crime occurred before the repeal. The court ruled that the repeal applied to crimes committed after July 1, 2009, when the repeal took effect.

New Mexico has executed one person since 1960, Terry Clark in 2001. Two others remain on the state's death row.