[Deathpenalty]death penalty news----ALA.
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Wed Jun 22 14:52:56 CDT 2005
Jury deadlocked on sentence in killing of officers
A jury remained deadlocked Tuesday over whether an admitted drug dealer
should be sentenced to death or life without parole in the shooting deaths
of 3 Birmingham policemen, killings he said were in self-defense.
The jury, which convicted Kerry Spencer of capital murder on Sunday, told
Circuit Judge Tommy Nail it was deadlocked on a sentence recommendation.
Nail then read instructions aimed at breaking the impasse, and the jury
Alabama's capital punishment law requires 10 of the 12 jurors to agree
before the panel can recommend a death sentence.
It takes 7 to recommend life without parole.
The judge said that if the jury can't agree on a recommended sentence, a
new jury would have to be impaneled for another sentencing hearing.
The judge, who makes the final decision, is not bound by the
The jury took less than 4 hours to convict Spencer on Sunday in the
shooting deaths of Birmingham police officers Carlos "Curly" Owen, 58,
Charles Robert Bennett, 33, and Harley Chisholm III, 40.
But the jury deliberated about 5 hours without a decision Sunday and had
been in discussions for a couple more hours Tuesday when it said it still
had not agreed on a recommended sentence.
The 3 officers were gunned down June 17, 2004, as they tried to serve a
misdemeanor warrant for Spencer's friend at a crack house.
Spencer, 25, admitted shooting the three, but he testified that he did so
reflexively in self-defense when they unexpectedly entered the house where
he had been dealing drugs.
In emotional pleas, defense lawyer Michael Blalock argued that the
shooting was not premeditated. Spencer's relatives also testified that he
had not been a violent person.
But prosecutors said Spencer repeatedly fired a high-powered assault
rifle, killing two officers in the kitchen and the third on the porch, a
crime that they said demands the death penalty.
Spencer also was convicted of attempted murder in the shooting of Officer
Michael Collins, 37, who survived and testified in the trial.
The officers had gone to the known drug house with a misdemeanor warrant
for Nathaniel Woods. He also was charged in the slayings and is set for
trial Aug. 22.
(source: The Tuscaloosa News)
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