Jury Recommends Death Penalty in Murder Case

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PANAMA CITY-- It took less than one hour for jurors to come back with a 10 to 2 vote recommending the death penalty for 29-year-old Kevin Jeffries.

Prosecutors listed four aggravating circumstances to justify the death penalty.

"This capital crime was heinous, atrocious and cruel,” Prosecutor Larry Basford said.

Prosecutors say Jeffries, his cousin, 28-year-old David Ian Challender, and his fiancé 29-year-old Nicole Griffin, broke into 90-year-old Wallace Scott's Lynn Haven home in April 2013, planning to rob him.

They say Jeffries and Challender beat and tortured Scott for three hours trying to get the pin to his ATM card. Scott died of strangulation.

"What we intend to do is enlighten you a little bit about his background. You have sort of a taste of it where he discusses growing up hard,” Defense Attorney Walter Smith said.

Defense attorneys attempted to argue that Jeffries was tricked into the situation.

Jurors heard testimony from six people during Friday’s penalty phase.

"The boy that I knew was a very loving, beautiful baby boy. I think he was poisoned from his mother. He never knew love,” Jeffries' aunt, Verna Christopherson, said.

But Jeffries mother Mary Goldsmith says otherwise.

Others including Bay County Sheriff's deputy Chad King, Morris Spense from the Inn Paradise and stepfather Darrel Goldsmith took the stand.

Finally, Sherri Mercer, Jeffries' aunt spoke.

She's accused of motivating the robbery at Scott’s home.

She's serving jail time for grand theft of Scott’s credit cards.

Jeffries decided not speak on his own behalf.

The attorney's addressed the jury one last time before they began deliberations.

The juror’s recommendation is not final. It’s up to the judge.

Judge Brantley Clark has scheduled a Spencer hearing for August 29th, when he'll sentence Jeffries for armed robbery and armed burglary. He will decide if Jeffries will get life in prison or the death penalty.

Griffin has already cut a deal with the state, pleading guilty to second-degree-murder in exchange for her testimony and a 20-year sentence.

Challender is scheduled to go on trial in September


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