Jurors defend penalty process:
This is an article about the jury defending its position on not sending Richard Henderson Jr. to death row.
After hours of determining his guilt, it took the jury fewer than 10 minutes to decide on a recommendation for Henderson’s punishment. Staples said nine jurors voted for life and three voted for death.
The brevity of the deliberations stemmed from conversations the group had earlier while determining whether to convict Henderson, Staples said. Jury members had discussed issues that would affect the penalty phase.
“In looking at it, a majority of us found that the death penalty was not appropriate in this case,” Staples said.
For Staples and the majority who voted for life, these mitigating factors stood out:
• Henderson’s criminal history: As far as the jury knew, he did not have a violent past.
• His love for his family: “Not one witness said he had (serious) problems with his family,” Staples said. “There was clear testimony all around he loved them.”
• His mental illness: “He didn’t get the care he needed,” Staples said, referring to Henderson’s psychiatric history. “Some, he sabotaged or didn’t want, yeah, but he was a kid and there was some responsibility on his parents and society to help him.”
Some testimony during the punishment phase of the trial also had an impact on why the jury did not recommend death, Staples said.
For example, Henderson’s grandfather, Loyal Stringer, described Henderson as “good guy.”
“It’s a tragic loss, but when his grandparents took the stand and proved they could still love him despite what has happened – that speaks toward what we had already thought.” Staples said. “That confirms our belief he wasn’t a cold, calculating monster.”
How could the death penalty not apply? How many of his family would he have had to bludgeon to death before the death penalty applied? If he really loved his family HE WOULDN’T HAVE BEAT THEM TO DEATH WITH A PIPE! He did have a violent criminal history. He planned to shoot up a high school or was the jury not told that part? And the juror basically contradicted himself in the quote about mental illness. If he sabotaged his own treatment then he was well aware if what was going on around him.
It’s not the gravest of injustices because Henderson did receive four life sentences. However I think Henderson more than deserved the death penalty and the jury’s reasoning behind not giving it to him was flawed.