Killer's attorney says jury divided over sentence
By Jim Dooley
Advertiser Staff Writer
By Jim Dooley
A jury in the extended sentencing hearing of convicted murderer John K. Lorenzo Jr. could not reach a decision on whether Lorenzo should be sentenced to life in prison without parole, his defense attorney said yesterday.
Lawyer Walter Rodby said members of the jury sent Circuit Judge Karl Sakamoto a written communication yesterday afternoon saying they were unable to reach a unanimous decision in the case.
According to Rodby, "If the jury is unable to reach a unanimous decision on the state's request for extended sentencing, then the request is denied."
The judge told the jury to return to court for a 10 a.m. hearing today, Rodby said.
Lorenzo, convicted of second-degree murder in the February shooting death of off-duty Deputy Sheriff Daniel Browne-Sanchez, still would face a sentence of life in prison with the possibility of parole.
James Fulton, executive assistant to Prosecuting Attorney Peter Carlisle, said late yesterday he did not have information on the status of the jury deliberations and could not comment.
The hearing was the first time a Hawai'i jury has considered an extended sentence of imprisonment for a criminal defendant.
That authority was previously reserved for judges, but the U.S. Supreme Court and more recently the Hawai'i Supreme Court ruled that such sentencing decisions should be made by juries.
The Hawai'i Legislature passed a new sentencing law in October and after Lorenzo was found guilty in the murder trial, Sakamoto ordered members of the jury to return to court this week to consider the prosecution's request for a sentence of life without parole.
Prosecutors argued that Lorenzo is a persistent, multiple criminal offender who must be locked away for life because he is a danger to the community.
Rodby argued to the jury that the Hawai'i Paroling Authority should have the discretion to parole Lorenzo, and said that statistics show he wouldn't be considered for parole for some 28 years.
Reach Jim Dooley at email@example.com.
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