Texas Jury Chooses Life Sentence In High Profile Case

In a potential death penalty case in Houston, Texas, a jury sentenced Juan Quintero to life without parole on May 20 for the murder of a police officer. One juror, Tiffany Moore, described her experience as very emotional, “I was torn up. I was crying. . . .I still feel we came to the right decision,” she said. “We could never bring Rodney back. I feel very sad for the family, losing a loved one.” Moore added that the sentencing phase was more difficult for the jury than the guilt-innocence decision, adding, “It was very tense…there was a lot of discussion.” Texas added the sentence of life without possibility of parole as an option for juries in September 2005. Over the past three years, the average annual number of death sentences was 13 (though life without parole may have only been an option in the more recent cases in which the crime was committed after the new law). The average number of death sentences in the prior decade was 34 per year.

(M. Tolson, "Quintero Sentence Baffling to Many," Houston Chronicle, www.chron.com, May 21, 2008).

See Sentencing. Death sentences have also been declining around the country, having dropped about 60% since 1999. The sentence of life without parole is available in 35 of the 36 states with the death penalty.