The jury in the trial of convicted College Station killer Stanley Robertson has been sequestered at a hotel for a second night having now deliberated about 17 hours over two days.
Around 2:30 p.m. Tuesday, jurors, in their words, "deadlocked" on the issue of whether Robertson is mentally retarded, the second of three issues the jury has on its plate to address.
However, Judge J.D. Langley ordered the jury to continue deliberations, saying jurors have not discussed the issue long enough to warrant a stoppage. At 9:00 p.m. Tuesday, they were sent to a hotel, just as they were after four-and-a-half hours of deliberations Monday.
If they remain deadlocked, the judge would eventually have to declare a mistrial and sentence Robertson to life in prison without possibility of parole instead of the death penalty the state is seeking.
Following the February 7 conviction of the 45-year-old for an August 2010 kidnapping and murder of Annie Toliver, jurors heard testimony and arguments over 11 days, culminating with their order to decide on at least three issues in determining Robertson's fate. Prosecutors want the death penalty. Robertson's lawyers want the only other option: life in prison without parole.
At 3:53 p.m. Monday, three questions were put before them. First was whether Robertson presents a future danger. All 12 jurors had to agree that he is in order for the death penalty to remain on the table. At least ten no's would have been needed to end the deliberations and pave the way for a life sentence.
The second special issue is whether Robertson is mentally retarded. The jury must unanimously agree that he is not to continue towards a death penalty. At least ten must say he is for the process to end and a life sentence to be imposed.
Jurors requested information Tuesday concerning testimony from prosecution and defense psychologists and Robertson's wife. They wanted to know about bankruptcy filings, suicide attempts, and a diagnostic manual for analysis of mental retardation.
The legal teams have gone back and forth with expert witnesses, questions and analysis of Robertson's history. The defense and its experts say the evidence shows their client -- with a low enough IQ, sufficient deficiencies in adaptive functioning, and both of those showing up before age 18 -- is mildly mentally retarded. Prosecutors put forward that the interviews those experts conducted weren't extensive enough and questioned the results of the IQ tests. The state's expert says Robertson has borderline intellectual functioning, a step above retardation.
By virtue of a U.S. Supreme Court ruling, people with mental retardation cannot be executed.
If the entire jury says Robertson is mentally retarded, the third special issue pertains to whether there are mitigating circumstances that warrant the life sentence over death. Again, the jury must unanimously agree there are none. Only then would death be imposed. At least ten jurors must say there are for a life sentence to be chosen.
Defense attorneys say extreme poverty, exposure to damaging pesticides as a child while working Alabama farm fields, sexual abuse by a brother-in-law, constant teasing by schoolmates are all reasons that the jury could choose not to go with the death penalty. Robertson's lawyers asked for mercy for their client.
Prosecutors say Robertson showed none when he attacked his ex-girlfriend's mother in the College Station Walmart parking lot. She was stabbed more than 30 times from the start of the attack until her body was dumped in Fort Worth. Robertson then led police on a chase around the city, one that ended with him intentionally crashing his SUV into a patrol car, seriously injuring the officer inside.
A month before the murder, Robertson allegedly put a knife to that ex-girlfriend, Tammy Toliver's throat in front of her children and held her hostage in their apartment. It led to Robertson's arrest, and he later stated that Tammy not being there for him during and after his jail time led to him attacking her mother, Annie.
In addition, prosecutors presented that Robertson has a extensive history of criminal activity and drug use. They also claim that many people have grown up with similar circumstances, but do not commit crimes like Robertson has.
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