|By: 176. The Sacrammento Bee | Date: May 13, 2010 |
Jurors tell why they decided spree killer must die
By Andy Furillo
Published: Thursday, May. 13, 2010
Aaron Norman Dunn's random shotgun killings of two good men and the night of danger he presented to an entire region convinced a Sacramento jury Wednesday that the meth-fueled murderer must answer with his life.
The six-man, six-woman panel reached its finding "that the penalty shall be death" for Dunn, 33, after nearly nine days of deliberations. The blood drained from Dunn's face when the clerk announced the penalty-phase verdict to a courtroom's capacity crowd.
It was Sacramento County's first death-penalty verdict in a little more than three years.
In weighing death vs. life for Dunn, jurors said the horrific post-mortem photos of murder victims Jon Johnson, 46, and Michael John Daly, 45, brought over the last panel member who had held out for a life sentence with no parole term. They said they were deeply moved by testimony from the victims' families and unpersuaded by the "meth psychosis" theory put forth by Dunn's defense team.
Mostly, though, they said they were overwhelmed by the brutality of Dunn's March 25, 2006, attack that imperiled a community, stretching from his residence in Olivehurst to the family restaurants along Laguna Boulevard in Elk Grove where he blasted homicide from the barrel of a shotgun.
"He attacked our community, the communities of Elk Grove and Sacramento County," juror Fred Young said afterward.
Johnson, a sports and news cameraman who wanted to explore the trauma of AIDS in Africa and the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, had his jaw shot off. Dunn's shotgun tore a baseball-size hole through the face of Daly, a musician and hockey-playing Xerox salesman. Both men were dining out with family who witnessed the point-blank shootings.
The pronouncement Wednesday that Dunn would die for his crimes brought little relief to the victims' relatives.
"I have wrestled back and forth with the death penalty," said Johnson's wife, Karen. "I wanted justice to be served. In the case of my husband and Michael Daly, I believe that happened. But then again, another man is going to die."
Michael Daly's brother David said "there are no winners here, only losers. My mother lost her son. My five siblings lost their little brother. Roberta lost her husband. William and Julia lost their father. I lost my brother and my best friend."
Except for the ashen face, Dunn offered no response to the death sentence. He left the courtroom in handcuffs.
"I hoped for a different result," said his attorney, Hayes Gable III. "But I know the jury worked very hard."
In the guilt phase of the trial, the jury convicted Dunn of the two murders and of trying to kill four other people, including two Elk Grove police officers. One of those two, Tisha Smith, was in the courtroom Wednesday.
It was Smith and her partner, Janell Bestpitch, who stopped Dunn's attack with barrages from their service revolvers.
Police, prosecutors and defense lawyers said Dunn launched his spree because he was distraught that his estranged wife had dumped him for other men.
Jury foreman Mike Pierce said maybe he could understand it if Dunn had directed his rage toward the wife or her boyfriends. "But he took people in the community – 'I'm mad at this guy, so I'm going to kill you,' " Pierce said. "He shot people in the face, up close and personal."
Pierce said the panel members "felt sorry" for Dunn and his troubled upbringing. Defense lawyers presented evidence that Dunn's father was emotionally and physically abusive. They portrayed Dunn's mother as emotionally distant.
Nevertheless, Pierce said, "Other people have been in that situation and didn't turn into mass murderers or do those kind of things."
"I can only give so much leeway," he said.
Sacramento Superior Court Judge Michael W. Sweet set July 6 as the official sentencing date. If he follows the jury's recommendation, Dunn would be the first defendant sent from Sacramento to San Quentin's death row since James Leslie Karis Jr., who was ticketed for execution in 2007 for a kidnap-murder.
"When we reviewed the facts of the (Dunn) case, the circumstances, and the backgrounds of the victims, everything in this case called for the death penalty, for us to seek that," said District Attorney Jan Scully.
Wednesday's pronouncement, if confirmed by the judge, will bring the state's death row population to 703, according to the corrections department.
But no condemned prisoner has been put to death in California since Clarence Ray Allen was executed on Jan. 17, 2006. The state's lethal injection protocol has since come under attack in the federal courts, extending the average time served on death row to 17 1/2 years.
|By: 175. The Sacramento bee | Date: May 13, 2010 |
|Death penalty for Aaron Norman Dunn in California
By Andy Furillo
Published: Wednesday, May. 12, 2010
A Sacramento Superior Court jury today recommended that Aaron Norman Dunn be sentenced to death for the March 25, 2006, shooting spree in Elk Grove in which he murdered two people and tried to kill four more.
The panel came back with its decision after deliberating nearly nine days on the penalty phase of Dunn's trial. The jury chose the death penalty instead of a term of life in prison with no chance of parole.
It was the first death penalty verdict returned by a Sacramento jury in three years.
|By: 174. The sacramento Bee | Date: May 12, 2010 |
|Dunn jury ends 8th day in death penalty deliberations
By Andy Furillo
Jurors in the Aaron Norman Dunn murder case today completed more than
eight days of deliberations without reaching a verdict in the penalty
phase of the convicted spree killer's trial.
The panel took a little more than one day to return first-degree murder
convictions April 13 against Dunn for the shooting deaths of Michael
John Daly, 45, and Jon Johnson, 46. The two were shot down while out
with their families in Elk Grove.
Dunn, 33, also was convicted of trying to kill four other people the
night of the March 25, 2006, shootings. Police and prosecutors, as well
as his defense attorneys, said Dunn was distraught over the breakup of
his marriage and his estranged wife going out with other men.
Jurors haven't had any more questions for Sacramento Superior Court
Judge Michael W. Sweet since they asked last week whether they could
consider remorse as an aggravating factor in the case.
A Sacramento jury has not sentenced a defendant to death since April
25, 2007, when a panel recommended capital punishment in a penalty
phase retrial for James Leslie Karis Jr.
Karis, a paroled rapist, had been convicted and sentenced in 1982 for
the kidnap-murder of a woman in Placerville. His trial had been moved
to Sacramento from El Dorado County because of pre-trial publicity.
The last death penalty murder sentence in Sacramento that also included
a guilt phase in the trial was returned on Dec. 21, 2006 against Joseph
Moreno Aguayo for the kidnap, rape and murder of a woman in 1979.
Both Karis and Aguayo are on California's death row.
|By: 174. patti mathews | Date: May 10, 2010 |
|love to you all
|By: 172. Diane McGarry | Date: May 10, 2010 |
|For those keeping track of the penalty phase in this horrendous trial, the jury got the case on Thursday April 29th about 3pm PST. So far they have not been able to produce a verdict. At some point last week they asked the judge if they could see the shotgun, and they also asked him if they could consider remorse (or lack thereof) a factor when considering the penalty.
The judge responded that they could consider remorse in their deliberations if they felt the defendant showed no remorse at the crime scene. And he told them to let him know if they wanted to see the shotgun again. They had seen it early on in the guilt phase of the trial, and they were shown exactly what it took to shoot, reload, and shoot again...eight times the night of the shooting spree.
Dave and Kris, and Mo have been standing by waiting for the jury to come in with their verdict. The only decision to be made is a choice between life without parole or death. This must be a very difficult and intense decision for the twelve who pronounced him guilty of first degree murder in both counts, and attempted murder in five of six counts. They have deliberated for more than seven full days, and they will be back again on Tuesday morning.
I wish them well in their deliberations.
|By: 171. The Sacramento Bee | Date: May 5, 2010 |
|Dunn death-penalty jurors ask if lack of remorse is factor
By Andy Furillo
Jurors have now completed more than three days of deliberations without deciding whether Aaron Norman Dunn should get the death penalty for shooting two men to death during a March 25, 2006, rampage in Elk Grove.
The six-man, six-woman panel did send a question to Sacramento Superior Court Judge Michael W. Sweet late in its deliberations today asking whether it could consider Dunn's lack of remorse as an aggravating factor in deciding whether to impose the ultimate term.
In his response to the jury's question, Sweet wrote to the jury that it could consider it as a factor in aggravation if the panel found that Dunn exhibited a lack of remorse at the crime scene. Witnesses testified at trial that after the second of his two fatal shootings, Dunn held his shotgun with both hands over his head in celebration.
Sweet also told the jury it could not consider any evidence of his lack of remorse after the crime as an aggravating factor, but that it "may make remorse unavailable as a mitigating factor."
Deputy District Attorney Scott Triplett chided Dunn during his closing argument for his lack of remorse throughout the case, while defense lawyers Amy Rogers and Hayes Gable III did not offer remorse as a mitigating factor on behalf of their client.
The jury convicted Dunn, 33, on April 13 of first-degree murder with the special circumstance of multiple murders for the killings of cameraman Jon Johnson, 46, and Xerox salesman Michael John Daly, 45.
The jury also found Dunn guilty of trying to kill four other people in the spree that was set off by his rage over the breakup of his marriage.
The panel has been deliberating since Thursday afternoon whether to sentence Dunn to death or to life in prison with no chance of parole.
|By: 170. t. daly | Date: May 3, 2010 |
|Our judicial process does not seat jurors in capital murder cases that would object to the imposition of the death penalty. So what the Jury is doing in the penalty phase of deliberations in the Laguna Boulevard murders in Elk Grove in 2006, that claimed the lives of Jon Johnson and Mike Daly, has been nothing less than profound. It is their given task, imposed on them by the State of California to choose the penalty of death or the possibility of life in prison without parole. It is now their sole task to condemn Aaron Dunn to death or send him to prison for the rest of his life. That they have now taken three days to talk about this amongst themselves speaks to what a horrible imposition this is placed on their conscience for the rest of their own natural lives.
The State in our name wants twelve of its citizens to choose death, a sentence that most certainly will not occur in the jurors own lifetimes. So they would condemn a man to death, an outcome that will not take place until a generation or more has passed, and the responsibility of putting this man to death will be carried out by someone possibly yet unborn who will have no stake in what occurred that horrible night. Their thoughtful consideration of what they are about to do should be entertained by all of us. It is probably the most important decision they will ever make. I appreciate that this jury heard the evidence and convicted this man for what he did do to two outstanding men, loving fathers and husbands, brothers and friends, and what he also did to countless family members. Should they choose death for Aaron Dunn it will be largely symbolic and won’t mean anymore that the life in prison he will surely serve.
My hope is that they are resolved through thoughful process, to do what they think is right.
|By: 169. The Sacramento Bee | Date: May 1, 2010 |
|The Sacramento Bee
April 30, 2010
No verdict from death-penalty jury on Elk Grove spree killer
By Andy Furillo
Jurors went home today without reaching a decision in the penalty phase of the Aaron Norman Dunn murder trial.
The six-man, six-woman panel began deliberations Thursday on whether Dunn should be put to death or spend the rest of his life in prison with no chance of parole for the March 25, 2006, shotgun spree-shooting deaths of Michael John Daly, 45, and Jon Johnson, in Elk Grove.
Dunn, 33, was convicted April 13 on two counts of first-degree murder. He also was convicted of trying to kill four other people, including two Elk Grove police officers, in his drug-fueled rampage on a Saturday night on Laguna Boulevard.
The jury is scheduled to resume deliberations Monday in Sacramento Superior Court.
|By: 168. Diane McGarry | Date: May 1, 2010 |
|Hi All, The jury went home for the weekend without reaching a decision on the verdict. This must be a very difficult decision for them. And they need to be unanimous. They will reconvene on Monday at 9AM PST. Diane
|By: 167. The Sacramento Bee | Date: Apr 30, 2010 |
|By Andy Furillo
Published: Friday, Apr. 30, 2010
Six men and six woman walked out of a Sacramento courtroom Thursday with grim looks on their faces and the weight of a man's life on their shoulders.
In deliberations that began in midafternoon and will continue today, the Sacramento Superior Court panel will decide whether convicted spree murderer Aaron Norman Dunn lives or dies for killing two men and trying to kill four others on a spring night in Elk Grove four years ago.
Deputy District Attorney Scott Triplett argued that the circumstances of Dunn's March 25, 2006, attack should tip the scales toward a death sentence. Dunn, enraged over the breakup of his marriage, shot up a Saturday night on Laguna Boulevard and killed cameraman Jon Johnson, 46, and Xerox salesman Michael John Daly, 45.
The shootings "annihilated" the men's lives right in front of their wives, and, in Daly's case, his two young children, Triplett said. The random shootings that night could have taken out "anybody you know," he said.
After Dunn, 33, killed Johnson, he danced in the street and waved his shotgun over his head. He told his mother afterward in a jailhouse conversation he didn't regret a bit of it.
"This man does not deserve the gift of leniency," Triplett told the jury.
Assistant Public Defender Amy Rogers and her partner, Hayes Gable III, acknowledged the horrific nature of the crimes. But they said Dunn's life was shattered by the loss of his wife and job, that he was set on a sick life's path by a father who shot up heroin in front of him and a mother who emotionally abandoned him, that his methamphetamine ingestion ruined his capacity to reflect on what he was doing that night.
"Ladies and gentlemen, I'm asking you to be compassionate, strong and noble," Rogers said. "Reject death. Come back with a verdict of life without possibility of parole."
Judge Michael W. Sweet gave the jury a list of 12 aggravating and mitigating factors it can consider in deciding whether to impose the death penalty on Dunn or to send him to prison for the rest of his life.
In going down the list, the deputy district attorney cited two recent attacks by Dunn on other inmates in the downtown jail, his 1993 assault of another Marysville High School student and his jumping of a bouncer during a 2005 bar fight. Triplett said Dunn's upbringing wasn't the best, but wasn't the worst, either.
The prosecutor asked the jury to stick by its finding in the guilt phase of Dunn's trial that dismissed the methamphetamine psychosis defense. He told them to remember what happened the night Dunn loaded up his shotgun and headed down to Elk Grove from Olivehurst.
"Now you're being asked to speak the conscience of the community," Triplett said. He added, "Capital punishment would be meaningless if it doesn't apply to this man."
In separate arguments, the two defense lawyers recounted Dunn's bizarre upbringing that set him on a path of drug use and juvenile delinquency.
His life stabilized, they said, with his marriage and the birth of his daughter. It lost its tether again, they said, when his wife dumped him for guys she met on the Internet. Then she took their daughter and walked out of his life.
Rogers and Gable said Dunn's methamphetamine use in the hours and days ahead of the murders did not excuse his attack but did help explain it.
Gable said that Dunn will die in prison no matter what, but that a jury ordering up his execution would only compound the tragedy.
"I submit to you, you do not have to kill Aaron Dunn to see that justice is done in this case," Gable said. The jury "can't undo the damage done," he said, "but what you can do is stop the killing right here … while at the same time seeing that justice is done for Jon Johnson and Michael Daly."