NEWS (2/10/20): Jurors reached penalty-phase verdicts in four cases during the week of February 4–10, 2020, returning three life verdicts and one death sentence.

On February 4, Jamaal Smith was sentenced to life without parole in a Florida triple murder on February 4 after a Polk County jury reached a non-unanimous sentencing recommendation. A co-defendant, Johnathan Alcegaire, was sentenced to death in a separate trial in 2019.

On February 7, Donald Hartung received a life sentence in Pensacola, Florida in a different triple murder, also as a result of a non-unanimous jury vote at sentencing. Hartung’s lawyers had presented evidence that the 63-year-old defendant was suffering from dementia at the time of the murders caused by damage to the frontal and temporal lobes of his brain.

Later in the day, a Clark County, Nevada jury sentenced Ray Charles Brown to life in the 2016 murder of a Las Vegas liquor store clerk during an attempted robbery. Two co-defendants in the murder pled guilty and were sentenced to terms of years.

In a rare Sunday verdict, jurors from Rapides Parish, Louisiana sentenced Kyle Joekel to death for the murders of two St. John Parish sheriff’s deputies in 2010. Prosecutors said Joekel was a member of the “sovereign citizens” movement, an anti-government group that ambushed the deputies in a trailer park. Jurors were selected from Rapides Parish because the publicity in St. John Parish about the highly emotional case made it impossible to select a jury from the parish. A formal sentencing date has not yet been set.