Prosecutors: No crying in death penalty closings

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Prosecutors: No crying in death penalty closings

Post  Jennie on Fri Jun 20, 2008 11:38 am

Prosecutors say there should be no crying during closing arguments in death penalty cases. Jason Phillabaum, an assistant Butler County prosecutor, filed motions this week asking that defense attorneys be blocked from using emotional appeals to a jury during the trial and sentencing phase of an upcoming death penalty case.

"Specifically, defense attorneys have strategically been known to cry on cue and beg for their client's lives," according to the motions, which notes previous cases where defense attorneys have been admonished for crying in front of a jury during closing arguments.

The motions came following a trial last month in which attorney Greg Howard cried while urging jurors to spare his client, Harvey "Shawn" Johnson. Johnson received life in prison for the kidnapping and strangulation of Kiva Gazaway.

Howard will help represent James O'Hara in a death penalty case in August. O'Hara is accused of stabbing Stanley Lawson in a Middletown apartment complex.

Phillabaum and county Prosecutor Robin Piper declined to discuss the motions, but Piper said he thought a trained professional should be able to control emotions in court.

Howard called the motions "petty" and said he can't wait to argue against them in a July 18 hearing before Common Pleas Judge Andrew Nastoff in this southwest Ohio city.

"They want to kill my clients. They want to win at all costs," Howard said. "They are tired of losing, so they are trying to limit what I can say in my closing arguments."

He added that if he could cry on cue, he would be in Hollywood.

"It is emotional; you are trying to save your client's life. It just comes out," Howard said.

(source: The Journal News)

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