I'm reading this case, which is in the California Supreme Court, and I had an inkling that, since it was there, it was probably a death case. Maybe even read a line that said so. But when I'm reading the facts, I'm thinking: "Wait, they sentenced this guy to death? This looks identical to virtually every single murder that's ever been committed." A reaction that was only reaffirmed when I read the evidence in aggravation, which was basically none.
Vines shot a guy while robbing a McDonald's. He was a 21-year old African-American in Watts. He was previously convicted of burglary. No torture. No sadism. No nothing, except (obviously) a murder.
Apparently that's good enough to distinguish you from everyone else who only gets life in prison.
(Again, I know there are those who say that virtually every murderer deserves death, and I get that. But it's not the law. How we differentiate those who live from those who die seems to me a continuing problem.)