[Deathpenalty] death penalty news----GEORGIA
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Tue Dec 9 22:34:33 CST 2008
Sentencing hearing starts in illegal immigrants' slayings
A sentencing hearing for one of the people charged in the 2005 killings of
6 Mexican immigrants in brutal attacks has begun and is expected to last
at least a week.
Jamie Underwood pleaded guilty in September to all 4 indictments against
him. Tift County Superior Court Judge Gary McCorvey sentenced him at the
time to 120 years in prison on 3 of the 4 indictments. The sentencing on
the 4th indictment, which includes murder charges, is being held
separately because the prosecution is seeking the death penalty.
The brutality of the September 2005 attacks in which the victims were
beaten, shot and, in at least 1 case, raped shocked the thousands of
immigrants who have come to South Georgia for agricultural and
Tift County District Attorney Paul Bowden said in his opening statement
Monday that he is seeking the death penalty because of aggravating
circumstances surrounding the killings, which he says were carried out in
the course of attempted robberies and burglaries.
Defense attorney Dennis Francis opted to wait until the prosecution has
rested before giving his opening statement. Testimony continued Tuesday.
Tony Clark, who was a Georgia Bureau of Investigation medical examiner at
the time of the attacks, answered questions about the victims injuries
with the aid of graphic photos from the autopsies. He said most of the
injuries were consistent with those inflicted by a baseball bat or hammer.
One of the victims was shot to death, and the others died from blunt force
trauma, according to Clarks autopsy reports.
The prosecution also called as witnesses the GBI specialists who processed
the crime scenes. They used photos, diagrams and evidence from the scenes
to describe what they found on Sept. 30, 2005.
Underwood sat between two of his attorneys throughout proceedings. On
Monday, he occasionally talked to them but never registered any reaction
as the sometimes gruesome photos were shown.
The prosecution is also seeking the death penalty against co-defendant
Stacey Bernard Sims. The men face multiple charges, including murder,
felony murder, aggravated assault, armed robbery, burglary and possession
of a firearm during the commission of a crime in the deaths of 6 men and
the injury of at least 6 others in the attacks in and around Tifton, a
rural city about 170 miles south of Atlanta.
2 women, Jennifer Lafay Wilson and Emma Jean Powell, were indicted on the
same charges, but the prosecution isn't seeking the death penalty against
them. Bowden has said in the past that that is because the women only
drove the men from place to place.
Bowden said he expects Underwoods sentencing hearing to last into next
week. The other 3 defendants have not entered pleas and their trial dates
have not been set.
(source: Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
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