Cordova v. GeorgiaAnnotate this Case
Pro-se petitioner David Cordova (a/k/a Cordoba) appealed a superior court decision to deny his "motion to vacate void sentence" after he negotiated to guilty pleas to malice murder, armed robbery and kidnapping with bodily injury. He was sentenced to three life sentences without the possibility of parole. On appeal, Cordova argued his sentences were void "as a result of the trial court’s failure to make a contemporaneous specification, beyond a reasonable doubt, the statutory aggravating circumstance required by O.C.G.A. 17-10-32.1 (b) authorizing imposition of a life sentence without possibility of parole." Previously, the Georgia Supreme Court has determined that this criminal statute must be strictly construed against the State so that "it is clear that a defendant who pleads guilty in a death penalty case cannot be sentenced to life without parole unless the judge contemporaneously makes a specific finding of a statutory aggravating circumstance beyond a reasonable doubt." The Georgia Court determined that did not happen in this case; the plea court did not specify an aggravating circumstance at the time of sentencing, so the statutory requirement was not met. Accordingly, the superior court’s order denying Cordova's "motion to vacate void sentence" was reversed with the direction that his sentences of life in prison without the possibility of parole be vacated.