ELYRIA — Attorneys on both sides spent Monday morning arguing whether Elliott Kirkland deserves to live or die for his role in the 2016 shooting death of Jimmie Holland Jr.
Now it’s up to the jury, which could opt for prison sentences or recommend a death sentence.
Closing arguments in the penalty phase of the capital murder trial of Kirkland, 29, of Lorain, wrapped up Monday morning and the jury began deliberating on the defendant’s sentence about 11 a.m. By 4 p.m. Monday, the jury had not reached a decision in the sentence and were sequestered and sent to an undisclosed area hotel for the night.
The jury will be returned to the courthouse this morning, when deliberations will resume.
Last month, the jury found Kirkland guilty of aggravated murder in the killing of Holland, who was shot three times before bleeding to death in his apartment. Kirkland, Mark Sanchez, Jasmine Schafer and Latrice Thomas had planned to rob Holland, whom they believed to be a drug dealer whom they thought had a large amount of cash.
Testimony said that Kirkland and Sanchez entered the apartment while Holland was sleeping. When Holland woke up, he found the two men in his bedroom and tried to fight them off.
Sanchez testified that Kirkland shot Holland three times, grabbed a bag of money from the room and ran from the apartment.
Defense attorney Kenneth Lieux argued that Kirkland doesn’t deserve to be sentenced to death for his actions Aug. 29, 2016, because he did not plan to kill Holland. Instead, when the robbery went bad, Holland didn’t follow directions and was shot and killed during the struggle.
Lieux argued that all four people involved in the robbery were complicit in the killing of Holland, but only Kirkland was facing the death penalty because the “only difference was that he pulled the trigger.”
Lieux also asked the jury to really think about what it was doing because Monday was unlike any other day in their lives since they’re tasked with deciding whether another person lives. He urged them to consider if they’ll be able to live with their decision when they lay their head on their pillow.
David Doughten, also a defense attorney for Kirkland, argued that there is good in his client, and asked the jury to preserve Kirkland’s life.
Assistant County Prosecutors Tony Cillo and Laura Dezort asked the jurors to “follow the law” and sentence the defendant to death. Both argued that Kirkland chose to lead the kind of life that he’d led, to be a drug dealer and to not pursue his education even though he was offered many opportunities to turn his life around.
The jury is tasked with deciding what sentence Kirkland should receive — death, life in prison without the possibility of parole or life in prison with the possibility of parole after 25 or 30 years.
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