by Max Brantley
TodaysTHV posts an interview with a juror in the capital murder trial of Curtis Lavelle Vance for the rape and beating death of Anne Pressly. As a juror told David Koon earlier, Channel 11 reports that three jurors apparently decided that mitigating testimony about Vance's life overcame their other finding that the state had proved grounds for the death penalty.
David has a further article on the jury for this week's issue of the Times in which he talked to two jurors, both of whom voted for the death penalty and both of whom said three jurors were firm that they could not vote for death after hearing the sentencing testimony. One of the jurors said three black female jurors were holdouts and that Vance's family situation seemed to be a factor in their decision. (All had sworn during selection that they could impose a death sentence.)
Excerpts from David's coming article on the two interviews, with jurors identified as Juror A and B:
Both said that there were three firm holdouts against death. While Juror A did not want to talk about the race or gender of the jurors who favored life in prison without parole, Juror B said that the three were black women.
Juror A said that testimony by Vance’s family and Pressly’s family during the penalty phase had an effect. “I know that it was emotional to hear about his family and his upbringing, but to hear from [Pressly’s] family and her friends as well. I think that though we were all affected by all of that, we were still trying to make a smart decision about what to do.” While Juror A was for the death penalty, the juror said that there was no convincing the three holdouts to change their minds ....
Deliberations grew more tense when it became clear that three female jurors wouldn’t sentence Vance to death. “People were just saying, he had it rough and he didn’t have a chance, and his mother didn’t love him,” Juror B said. “It kept coming back up: his mother didn’t love him, and can you imagine what it would do to you? I remember one lady saying that. She said that’s the part that really stuck with her.”
Juror B said that another juror at one point revealed that he was for death because his life had been touched by violent crime. “One of the gentlemen had an aunt or something who had gotten killed by a guy who got out of prison early who was in for life,” Juror B said. “So he was like: You are not going to talk me out of the death penalty, because if that guy would have been dead, he would have never have killed my aunt, or something to that effect.”