Sentencing Data

Recent Death Sentences by Name, Race, County, and Year

34 new death sentences were imposed in the United States in 2019, the second-fewest in any year in the modern history of U.S. capital punishment, which dates back to the Supreme Court’s 1972 decision in Furman v. Georgia striking down all existing death-penalty laws then in effect in the country.

The new death sentences imposed in 2019 declined by 20.9% from the already low 43 new death sentences that had been imposed in 2018. The year’s numbers also represented a more than 89% decline from the peak of 310 or more new death sentences imposed each year from 1994 through 1996. The only time in the past 47 years in which fewer defendants were sentenced to death was 2016, when 31 new death sentences were imposed.

The cases resulting in new death sentences in 2019 continued to reflect major deficiencies in the trial process. They included two defendants whose juries did not unanimously recommend the death penalty; a brain-damaged defendant who was deemed competent to represent herself and then presented no defense at either the guilt of penalty phases of her trial; a foreign national who waived his right to consular assistance and then refused the assistance of counsel; and others who waived their right to counsel, waived their right to a jury trial, and/or pled guilty and presented no case for life.


Because of the volatility of sentencing from year to year, single-year fluctuations in the number of new death sentences should be viewed with caution. The multi-year trends in 2019, however, pointed to a continuing long-term decline in capital punishment in the U.S.

  • Continued near-record low death sentences: 2019 was the fifth consecutive year in which there were fewer than 50 new death sentences imposed in the United States. 1973 is the only other year in the modern era of U.S. capital punishment in which fewer than 50 new death sentences were imposed nationwide. At least 100 new death sentences were imposed in the U.S. every year from 1974 through 2010, a span of 37 years.
  • 3-Year Trend: There were 116 new death sentences imposed in the United States in the three-year period from 2017–2019, for an average of 38.7 per year. That marked a decline of 24.2% from the prior three-year period from 2014–2016, in which 153 new death sentences were imposed, or an average of 51.0 per year.
  • 5-Year Trend: There were 196 new death sentences imposed in the United States in the five-year period from 2015–2019, for an average of 39.2 new death sentences per year. By comparison, 437 new death sentences were imposed from 2010–2014, an average of 87.4 per year. There were 241 fewer new death sentences imposed in the second half of the decade than in the first, a decline of 48.2 death sentences per year. That amounted to a 55.1% decline (more than half) in the final five years of the decade compared to the years 2010–2014.
  • 10-Year Trend: There were 633 new death sentences imposed in the United States in the decade of the 2010s, for an average of 63.3 per year. By comparison, 1,458 new death sentences were imposed in the decade of the 2000s, an average of 145.8 per year. There were 825 fewer new death sentences imposed in the decade of the 2010s than in the first decade of the 21st century, a decline of 82.5 death sentences per year. That amounted to a 56.6% decline (again, more than half) in the decade of the 2010s compared to the decade of the 2000s.

Defendants Sentenced to Death in 2019

First NameMiddleLast Name

Suffix

StateCountyRaceAge at CrimeNon-Unanimous / Judge Sentencing
Brett Richard Yeiter AL Escambia W 46 10-2 jury vote
Lionel Francis AL Madison B 34 11-1 jury vote
Michael David Belcher AL Tuscaloosa W 31
Kenneth Wayne Thompson AZ Yavapai W 28
Miguel Crespo CA Kern L 42
John Hernandez Felix CA Riverside L 29
Rigoberto Villanueva CA Riverside L 40
Brandon Council Federal S.C. B 32
Donald Davidson FL Clay W 34
Robert Earl Craft FL Columbia W 27
Rocky Ali Beamon FL Jackson W 34 1-judge sentencing
Johnathan Alcegaire FL Polk B 26
Rocky Ali Beamon FL Santa Rosa W 39
Christian Cruz FL Volusia L 19
Scottie Allen FL Wakulla W 40
Tiffany Moss GA Gwinnett B 30
David Isiah Godwin NC Carteret W 25
Mikel Brady NC Pasquotank W 24
Seaga Gillard NC Wake B 28
Thomas Knuff Jr. OH Cuyahoga W 42
Joseph McAlpin OH Cuyahoga B 29
Matthew Nicholson OH Cuyahoga B 28
Kristofer Garrett OH Franklin B 24
Arron Lawson OH Lawrence W 23 3-judge sentencing
George Brinkman OH Stark W 45 3-judge sentencing
Derek Don Posey OK Canadian B 29
Jacob Sullivan PA Bucks W 43
Rahmael Sal Holt PA Westmoreland B 29
Jerome Jenkins Jr. SC Horry B 20
Timothy Jones Jr. SC Lexington W 32
Ronald Lee Haskell Jr. TX Harris W 33
Dameon Jamarc Mosley TX Smith B 35
Hector Acosta-Ojeda TX Tarrant L 32
Gary David Green TX Upton W 50

2019 Death Sentences by Race of Defendant and Victim

RaceNumber of Defendants Sentenced to Death
White 17
Black 12
Latinx 5
Total 34
RaceNumber of Victims
White

22

Multiple Races (including White)

5

Black

3
Latinx3
Asian1



2019 Death Sentences by County

CountyNumber of Death Sentences
Cuyahoga, OH 3
Riverside, CA 2
Bucks, PA 1
Canadian, OK 1
Carteret, NC 1
Clay, FL 1
Columbia, FL 1
Escambia, AL 1
Franklin, OH 1
Gwinnett, GA 1
Harris, TX 1
Horry, SC 1
Jackson, FL 1
Kern, CA 1
Lawrence, OH 1
Lexington, SC 1
Madison, AL 1
Pasquotank, NC 1
Polk, FL 1
Santa Rosa, FL 1
Smith, TX 1
Stark, OH 1
Tarrant, TX 1
Tuscaloosa, AL 1
Upton, TX 1
U.S. Gov't (South Carolina) 1
Volusia, FL 1
Wake, NC 1
Wakulla, FL 1
Westmoreland, PA 1
Yavapai, AZ 1

2019 Death Sentences by State

StateDeath Sentences in 2019
Florida 7
Ohio 6
Texas 4
Alabama 3
California 3
North Carolina 3
Pennsylvania 2
South Carolina 2
Arizona 1
Federal 1
Georgia 1
Oklahoma 1