A former infantryman from North Carolina has been sentenced to life in prison without parole after the jury failed to reach a unanimous decision as to whether he should get the death penalty. He was convicted in September of murder in the first degree and sex offense with a child. The victim of the assault was his 10-month-old stepdaughter.
The jury recently met to consider the death penalty and initially returned a recommendation of life in prison without parole. However, a review of the jurors indicated there was not unanimous agreement among them and they were directed to continue deliberations. They spent more than five hours deliberating and still came to an impasse. In the case of an impasse, the sentence automatically becomes life in prison without parole.
According to police, the child died from severe head trauma and had bruises and abrasions around her private parts. The defense attributed the injuries to the stepfather having wiped the baby violently while drunk and angry. The 28-year-old man had also been suffering from post traumatic stress disorder after serving in Iraq. They argued there should not be another death is this already senseless tragedy. They also argued that sending the jury to reconsider their decision was a violation of the Eighth and 14th amendments.
Murder and attempted murder charges are taken seriously in North Carolina, especially in cases where the imposition of the death penalty is a possibility. With such severe consequences at stake, an individual facing life in prison or the death penalty would do well to consult with an attorney dedicated to protecting the legal rights of the accused and fighting for the best result.
Source: News Observer, "Soldier who killed infant stepdaughter gets life in prison," Anne Blythe, Sept. 13, 2011