Stanley Griffin has been sentenced to death for a 2010 murder in College Station.
A jury decided he was a future danger, that there were no mitigating circumstances to keep him from being executed, and that he was not mentally retarded. Judge Steve Smith issued the sentencing shortly after the jury's decision.
Closing arguments took place Friday morning, and the jury took four-and-a-half hours to decide.
Last week, Griffin was convicted of killing Jennifer Hailey in her Pedernales Drive home in September 2010, then attacking her nine-year-old son, who witnessed the murder.
"Even if you come upon hard times, to hurt somebody and ask for mercy when you really haven't made an effort to work your way out of it is not something we want to put up with when you cause this kind of damage," District Attorney Bill Turner said.
Fellow prosecutor Brian Baker added, "This community is so strong in its sense of justice, and (Hailey's son) was really unsure that that existed at some point based on some of his experiences in this case. This community came through and showed him that there is a just result."
The jury was asked three special issues:
1. Is Griffin a future danger to society? For the jury to return a "yes" answer, all 12 jurors had to agree.
2. Are there mitigating circumstances that should prevent the state from executing Griffin? For the jury to return a "no" answer, all 12 jurors had to agree.
3. Is Griffin mentally retarded? For the jury to return a "no" answer, all 12 jurors must agree.
With its "yes" to Special Issue #1 and "no" to #2 and #3, the path was cleared for Griffin to be sentenced to die.
The defense argued Griffin is mentally retarded and ineligible for the death penalty. The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled executing the mentally retarded is cruel and unusual punishment. In addition, they said a rough upbringing was a mitigating circumstance that should keep the State of Texas from putting him to death.
"We presented, I think, a rather compelling case on mental retardation, and obviously the jury saw it differently," defense attorney Lane Thibodeaux said. "In mitigation, I think there was significant mitigation evidence that obviously was not persuadable to the jury."
Prosecutors put their own witnesses on the stand to refute the retardation claim, claiming his IQ is above the threshold and he does not have serious adaptive functioning deficiencies. They also argued his background should not be a factor in the decision, and that he knows right from wrong and can make choices for himself.
The crime was considered capital because the State of Texas successfully argued Griffin kidnapped Hailey's child when he ordered the boy back to his room as he saw his mother being attack. Prosecutors said Griffin had no intention of the boy leaving.
Griffin has an automatic appeal to the death penalty.
"The aggravating factor -- the kidnapping allegation -- we always thought was extremely weak," defense attorney Stephen Gustitis said, "and that will be a very significant part of the appeals process, to review the sufficiency of that evidence to determine whether the Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution supports a death penalty for such an aggravating factor."
The family of Jennifer Hailey declined to give victim impact statements at the end of the trial, and declined to comment to media.
"It's always mixed feelings because it's a somber occasion," Turner said. "There's a loss that has to be accounted for, but in accounting for that, there's other people that get hurt that had nothing to do with it, so as a result of that, you walk away from a courtroom with mixed feelings."
Griffin did not testify in the guilt/innocence phase or in the punishment phase.
Friday morning, it was decided a juror wold be released following closing arguments due to a scheduled commitment Friday night. An alternate juror will take that spot. Two alternates have heard the entirety of the trial, only they didn't help decide guilt.
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