Closing Arguments in Punishment Phase of Capital Murder TrialFeatured Stories, News Monday, February 25th, 2013
A Brazos County capital murder trial entered its third week of the punishment phase and fourth week overall.
The jury was unable to reach a decision, and was sequestered in a local motel. Deliberations will resume Tuesday morning at 9.
In closing arguments Monday, lawyers for Stanley Robertson asked the jury for life in prison without parole while prosecutors sought the death penalty. That’s after the jury convicted Robertson of kidnapping and stabbing his ex-girlfriend’s mother.
Attorneys argued for almost three hours about the validity of medical specialists and intelligence tests.
Defense lawyers focused on the life experiences that seemed pitted against Robertson, saying that Robertson not only was mentally deficient, but that he did not need the death penalty because he would not be a threat to others in the future. They asked the jurors to “Vote the truth. Vote your conscience, vote your view, vote your values”.
On the other hand, prosecutors gave a long list of Robertson’s crimes that included arson, rape, and robbery. They focused on the cruelty and pre-mediation involved in the murder of Annie Toliver, who was kidnapped from the Wal-mart parking lot and stabbed 38 times. Among other things, they showed a picture of him smiling from the store’s surveillance camera, recorded just before the murder. In response to arguments that Robertson would not be a future threat, the state reminded listeners that a man’s character is determined by who he is when nobody’s looking. He said, “Go to the Wal-mart parking lot and ask who the defendant is when nobody’s looking.”
As in the opening statements, the defense focused on law and explanations of definitions, arguing that Robertson not only would do well in the structure of prison, but that his actions were the result of an impoverished childhood and mental damage, which they called a “broken brain,” due to exposure to pesticides in the field were his mother worked. They stated, “We believe that you’ll agree that life without parole is enough punishment in this case.”
Prosecutors argued that many people have been poor or sprayed with pesticide and not gone on to commit capital murders. After showing the bloody and cut shirt of Annie Toliver and the crunched car of the policeman that Robertson hit head-on, the attorney said, “At some point in time you really need to stop blaming your childhood.”
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