Penalty phase of Albarran trial is Monday

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Penalty phase of Albarran trial is Monday

Post  Jennie on Mon Jun 23, 2008 11:06 pm

The penalty phase of the trial for Benito Albarran, convicted of capital murder, is scheduled to begin Monday in Madison County Circuit Court.

The mission of Albarran's defense attorneys will be to save his life, said 2 experienced trial lawyers, Mark McDaniel, who has been a defense lawyer for his entire 30-year career, and Larry Morgan, with 34 years experience, 14 as a prosecutor.

The prosecutors in the Albarran case, Robert Broussard and Jay Town, are seeking the death penalty. A 12-member jury convicted Albarran Thursday of killing Huntsville police officer Daniel Golden on Aug. 29, 2005, at the Jalisco Mexican restaurant on Jordan Lane. Golden was answering a domestic violence call telephoned to the 911 center by Albarran's wife, Laura Casternjo.

Albarran pleaded not guilty to the charge of capital murder because of insanity. His attorneys, Bruce Gardner, Richard Jaffe and Derek Drennan, said their client was too mentally impaired to understand that he was doing wrong.

The jury, which deliberated less than 4 hours before convicting Albarran, will hear more testimony from witnesses. The jurors will then deliberate and return an advisory opinion asking Circuit Judge Karen Hall to impose a sentence of either life in prison without parole or the death penalty. The jurors must vote at least 10 to 2 to recommend the death penalty. Under Alabama law, Hall can override the jury's advisory verdict.

If the jury deadlocks, the capital murder conviction still stands, but the defense can ask for a new jury to consider mitigating and aggravating circumstances.

In the penalty phase, the prosecutors present evidence of aggravating circumstances to convince the jurors to recommend the death penalty. Aggravating factors are any circumstances that make the death penalty appropriate in the judgment of the jurors, Morgan said.

The law lists 10 aggravating circumstances, but the prosecutors will immediately focus on the factor that made the crime a capital offense, Morgan said.

"One factor is that he killed a police officer who was on duty," he said.

The prosecutors will also argue that the crime was especially heinous, atrocious and cruel when compared to other capital murders, Morgan said.

"They will argue that Albarran shot Golden in the lower abdomen and, while the officer was lying on the ground with his hands up in a gesture of surrender, Albarran shot him twice in the face," he said.

To prove the cruelty of the crime, the prosecutors will call for testimony from experienced police investigators, McDaniel said.

"The state has to prove it beyond a reasonable doubt, and that calls for testimony from homicide investigators who have worked on a lot of capital murders," he said.

The defense has to prove the existence of mitigating circumstances to a reasonable degree of certainty, McDaniel said.

"There is no list of mitigating circumstances that the defense must follow," he said. "The defense can present any circumstance that might convince the jury to recommend a sentence of life without parole."

(source: Huntsville Item)

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