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May 20, 2007

A high-profile example of disparity in mercy

Both Capital Defense Weekly and Crime and Consequences provides coverage of the high-profile verdict this week from Chicago in which multiple murderer Juan Luna was spared a death sentence.  This Chicago Tribune article details some of the interesting back-story of the lone juror who voted for a life sentence and thus precluded the unanimous verdict needed for imposing a death sentence.  Here are snippets:

Earlier this month, as the jury pondered whether to convict Luna of murdering seven workers at the Palatine fast-food restaurant, the 28-year-old customer-service representative expressed strong doubts that Luna entered the restaurant with the intent to kill. 

"We kept asking her what we could explain to her to make her understand that he did it," recalled juror Sherwood Brown, a computer programmer from the South Side.  "She kept saying we had no proof that he went in there to murder.  That it was a robbery gone bad."  Brown said the woman held out for hours and then, without explanation, joined the rest of the jury in voting guilty.

She had no similar change of heart last week, however, refusing to go along when the rest of the jury voted to sentence Luna to death.  Without unanimity, the jury was required by law to recommend a life sentence.  The woman, whom fellow jurors and defense and prosecuting attorneys declined to name, didn't explain that decision to most of the jurors, either.  However, a few have said they felt she was moved by the pleas of Luna's 10-year-old son who had begged the jury to show mercy.

UPDATE:  This "Sidebar" column by Adam Liptak in the New York Times discusses the Luna verdict.

May 20, 2007 at 08:33 AM | Permalink


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kindness to the cruel is cruelty to the kind

Posted by: federalist | May 20, 2007 9:58:32 AM

I don't think this has as much to do with "mercy" as it seems. It seems that there was doubt about something that was an element.

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