Thursday, April 24, 2008

Judge overrides jury and imposes death penalty

In Birmingham, a Jefferson County judge has overridden a jury's decision and imposed the death penalty on Montez Spradley for stalking and killing a woman.

A jury convicted Spradley in February and voted 10-2 to recommend life without parole.

Jefferson County Circuit Judge Gloria Bahakel imposed the sentence of death by lethal injection on Monday after a brief hearing.

Spradley is the fourth person in Jefferson County in the last three years to be sentenced to death after 10 jurors called for the lesser sentence. Seven votes are needed for a jury to recommend life without parole.

Alabama allows judges to override a jury's sentencing verdict.

The 25-year-old Spradley was convicted of capital murder in the January 9th, 2004, death of 58-year-old Marlene Jason after a struggle outside her home. Authorities say Spradley followed her home from a shopping trip to buy clothes for her grandchildren.

One of Spradley's lawyers, Robert Sanford, said jurors think their decisions mean something "when in Alabama, it doesn't mean anything."

Prosecutor Mike Anderton says Spradley shot Jason, beat her and broke her hand.

Jason's 2 adult children favored life without parole for Spradley but said they would accept death. The woman's husband, Edward Jason, says death was the proper punishment.

(source: Associated Press)

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