Court to rule on guilt of murder accomplices

The Supreme Court agreed to decide whether someone who was not the ''trigger man'' in a murder can be sentenced to death. The high court ruled in 1976 that execution, when applied under rigorous legal guidelines, is not necessarily ''cruel and unusual punishment'' forbidden by the Constitution. But the justices have never ruled directly on whether an accomplice in a felony that included a murder can be sentenced to death.

In a case now before the court, the condemned man maintains he did not actually kill the victim, was not present at the scene, and did not intend the death of the victim.

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