SAN JOSE (KRON) — A third day of deliberations has come and gone as the jury in the Sierra LaMar trial has not yet reached a verdict in the penalty phase of the case.
The jury met for a half day on Thursday, but if you count the time they spent on the case, after the conclusion of closing arguments last Friday, this would be the fourth day of deliberations.
One might think that since the jury deliberated a bit less than two days before finding Antolin Garcia-Torres guilty of first-degree murder, it might also deliver swift justice in deciding on his punishment.
But this time around, the jury might be hung up on the toughest decision any jury can be asked to make says legal analyst Steven Clark.
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“Because this decision is so difficult and fraught with so many moral questions at a fundamental level, it is possible it could result in a hung jury because some jurors might not be comfortable, particularly with the fact that there is no body, with returning a death verdict,” Clark said.
Clark says there is a possibility some jurors might be holding out over what the defense in the penalty phase of the trial characterized as “lingering doubt” about some of the evidence or are inclined to show sympathy toward Garcia-Torres after hearing about the poverty and other hardships he faced as a kid.
“The jury stated at the outset that it was accepting of the death penalty,” Clark said. “You’ll recall how quickly it reached a verdict of first-degree murder with the special circumstance for kidnapping. So the question is, did the defense do enough to suggest that they should show mercy toward Garcia-Torres even though the DA says he showed no mercy to Sierra LaMar.”
If there is a hung jury, Clark says life without parole would be the default sentence.
But he says the DA could then seek to retry the penalty phase after consulting with the LaMar family.
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