My client stabbed his life partner several times early one Sunday morning, seemingly out of the blue, without provocation. The partner tried to flee their home, was stabbed again by the front door, and left to slowly bleed out in the foyer over the next couple hours. My client evoked an emergency response by phoning in a false report to 911 about a man with a gun. When police arrived, my client walked out of the house with a knife and was shot by the police. Thankfully, both survived.
My client was charged with Aggravated Assault with a deadly weapon causing serious bodily injury to a family member, a first-degree felony with a punishment range of 5 years up to life in prison. Despite the fact that my client was about 60 years old and had no criminal history whatsoever, the District Attorney initially sought a 25-year prison sentence. In pretrial negotiations, the District Attorney lowered its offer to 15 years. We rejected this offer realizing that, at my client’s age, any double-digit sentence could effectively be a life sentence. We headed to trial.
Because my client was legally eligible for probation, he entered a guilty plea to the jury, and we had a jury trial on the issue of punishment alone. Having developed a strong mitigation case, I was able to show the jury the dire financial situation my client and his life partner were in. Despite my client’s best efforts to find adequate employment, they were on the cusp of losing their home, my client was despondent, and his partner was oblivious. We called friend and neighbors to testify as to my client’s generous, helpful, and peaceful nature.
Every member of the jury had committed during jury selection that they could follow the law and at least consider probation for my client. However, after hearing evidence and deliberating, the jury decided to sentence him to seven years in prison plus a $10,000.00 fine.
After the jury reached the verdict, one juror indicated during a defense-requested jury poll that she felt rushed by her fellow jurors to reach a verdict. She said several people wanted probation, including her. After deliberation, they had narrowed themselves down to six or seven years in prison. She left the jury room to use the bathroom, and when she came back, the other 11 jurors had decided the verdict would be seven years and unfairly pressured her to go along.
As a result, the district attorney agreed to a plea deal of a five-year prison sentence, with no fine, the MINIMUM SENTENCE possible under the law.