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7:38 AM Wed, Nov. 21st

Sentencing begins in state's first sentencing trial by jury

Arizona's first case of sentencing a convicted murderer by jury began Tuesday in Mohave County Superior Court.

Frank Anderson was convicted in October 2001 of three counts of first-degree murder in the slaying of Golden Valley family six years ago.

Anderson also was convicted of one count of armed robbery and one count of conspiracy of murder.

Anderson, Bobby Poyson and Kimberly Lane were convicted of murdering Leta Kagen, her 15-year-old son, Robert Delahunt, and Roland Wear at Kagen's Golden Valley residence Aug.

12, 1996.

A Mohave County jury will sentence Anderson because of a new state law requiring a jury to sentence a defendant to death instead of a judge.

The law was enacted after the U.S.

Supreme Court ruled it was unconstitutional for judges to impose the death penalty.

The 16 jurors - nine women and seven men - heard opening arguments in the historic, third-floor Superior Courtroom before Judge James Chavez.

In the afternoon, Chief Deputy Mohave County Attorney Jace Zack called his first witness, Mohave County sheriff's detective Steven Parker, who pointed out aerial photographs of Kagen's residence and the crime scene.

Zack also admitted into evidence the knife used to kill Delahunt along with photographs and pieces of a cinder block used to bash in the juvenile's head.

Parker, who investigated the 1996 murder, also told of the large amount of blood that was splattered on the walls and ceilings of the travel trailer where the teen-ager's body was found.

The detective also told of fragments he recovered from the body of Wear and Kagen that he guessed were the remains of a .22-caliber bullet.

Also touched on was the decomposition of the three bodies, discolored and bloated from the hot August temperatures.

The bodies were discovered several days later.

During his cross examination, Anderson's attorney, Thomas Kehm, asked the detective whether tests were done on the bullets.

Parker said tests cannot be performed on bullet fragments.

Kehm asked whether it was possibly the fragments came from another caliber bullet.

"Yes," Parker said.

Kehm asked what jewelry was found on the three bodies.

Only Delahunt did not have any jewelry on him, Parker said.

The trial is expected to last seven days.

Lane was to testify today.

The jury could sentence Anderson to life in prison or death.

If the jury decides on life in prison, Chavez will then decide whether it will be life with parole possible after 25 years or life without parole.

According to court records, Lane lured Delahunt into a trailer where Anderson cut his throat and assisted Poyson in crushing the youth's head with bricks.

Anderson assisted Poyson in shooting Kagen and Wear later that night.

The three codefendants then stole Wear's truck.

Anderson, who dropped Lane and Poyson off near Chicago, was stopped and arrested driving the truck in southern Illinois.

Poyson, 26, was convicted and sentenced to death in November 1999.

He remains in prison.

Lane, 20, was also convicted in her first murder trial, but the Arizona Court of Appeals overturned her conviction and the state Supreme Court upheld that decision.

Prior to her second trial, she pleaded guilty to lesser charges and received a reduced sentence.