In People v. Caro, the Supreme Court today affirms the death penalty for a mother who was convicted of the 1999 fatal shooting of three of her four children, ages 5 to 11.  She denied committing the murders.

The court’s unanimous 89-page opinion by Justice Mariano-Florentino Cuéllar rejects numerous appellate arguments, many typical of death penalty appeals, such as various claims regarding jury selection.

Although signing the court’s opinion, Justice Goodwin Liu concurs separately.  The defendant herself was seriously wounded the night her three children were killed, and a police officer questioned her for up to three hours in a hospital ICU the next day before advising her of her Miranda rights.  The defendant claimed statements she made during the questioning should have been excluded from evidence.  The court doesn’t reach the issue, finding admission of the statements were harmless beyond a reasonable doubt.  Justice Liu agrees about the lack of prejudice, but chides the court for not deciding that admission of the statements was a due process violation.  He “see[s] no reason to leave readers wondering whether a constitutional violation occurred here” and concludes, “The hospital interview here crossed the line, and we should not hesitate to say so.”