Texas Should Not Have Executed Robert Pruett

Update: Robert Pruett was executed by lethal injection on Thursday.
Robert Pruett is scheduled to be executed by the State of Texas Thursday. He has never had a chance to live outside a prison as an adult. Taking his life is a senseless wrong that shows how badly the justice system fails juveniles.
Mr. Pruett was 15 years old when he last saw the outside world, after being arrested as an accomplice to a murder committed by his own father. Now 38, having been convicted of a murder while incarcerated, he will be put to death. At a time when the Supreme Court has begun to recognize excessive punishments for juveniles as unjust, Mr. Pruett’s case shows how young lives can be destroyed by a justice system that refuses to give second chances.
Mr. Pruett’s father, Sam Pruett, spent much of Mr. Pruett’s early childhood in prison. Mr. Pruett and his three siblings were raised in various trailer parks by his mother, who he has said used drugs heavily and often struggled to feed the children. Wh…

Aurora theater shooting juror: One juror refused death penalty

James E. Holmes
James E. Holmes
One juror refused to give James Holmes the death penalty because of his mental illness, according to a juror who spoke when the trial ended.

Two others were uncertain but were willing to continue talking about it, said Juror 17, who declined to give her name.

"The issue of mental illness was everything for the one who did not want to impose the death penalty," Juror 17 said.

It did not take long for the entire 12-member panel to realize minds were made up and would not change, she said.

Still, the seven-hour deliberation was cordial and respectful among a group that had become close over the past three months.

"The jury instructions were clear this was an individual decision, and we had to make it based on our own moral view of what's right and wrong," she said.

During his closing arguments, Arapahoe County District Attorney George Brauchler told the jury that if any of them were not convinced that death was the appropriate sentence, they should go back and watch one of the most unnerving pieces of evidence.

On Friday morning, the jury did just that and asked for equipment to watch the crime scene video recorded from inside the theater before victims were removed.

After the verdict was read, the juror who spoke to the media said the panel asked to watch the video in a final effort to change the mind of the juror who refused to hand down a death sentence.

"The person was solidly and definitely in that position and they weren't going to change," she said.

Still the juror seemed "genuine."

She said different jurors were "solid advocates" of their various positions but that there wasn't great exasperation or frustration expressed about lack of unanimity.

The final round of deliberations was more difficult than previous ones because it was a moral judgment, she said. There were fewer guidelines for jurors to follow.

Source: The Denver Post, August 8, 2015

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