PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — The same jury that convicted a Pittsburgh man for the murder of a Beaver Falls couple heard testimony Wednesday about whether he should live or die for the crime.
The prosecution is seeking the death penalty, but at the end of the day, the jury was not handed the case. The defense has two or three more witnesses to call to the stand Thursday.
The day was filled with emotion, even several jury members broke down in tears in the courtroom.
Robert Burgess, 37, of the North Side, and 28-year-old Devon Shealey have been convicted of murder in the deaths of Richard and Demetria Harper, both 32.
They were shot in the back of the head, execution-style, after what authorities say was a drug-related dispute.
Burgess was convicted of first-degree murder and Shealey of second-degree murder.
The four witnesses called by the prosecution brought many to tears in the Beaver County courtroom, they included the victims’ daughters who were in the house six years ago when their parents were killed.
The girls, now ages 15 and 17, talked about hearing their father crying, hearing gunshots and seeing their parents lying in a pool of blood.
As they cried from the witness stand, several in the courtroom did the same, as well as some jurors.
The defense attempted to show Shealey, who was sentenced to two life terms in June, made Burgess take part in the murder.
The 17-year-old daughter of the victims said from the stand, “Yeah, my parents smoked weed, and my mom sold it. Still, that doesn’t mean they should be dead.”
UPDATE (Oct. 30, 2014) —
Testimony continued Thursday in the case before closing arguments were presented.
His father, who took the stand today, allegedly sexually abused him. His father is also accused of beating and raping his mother in his presence as a young boy.
Burgess’s mother also testified to save her son from the death penalty.
During closing arguments, the prosecution called Burgess a “cold-blooded killer who deserves the death penalty.” But the defense argued that Burgess was influenced by his environment.
Jury deliberations start Friday morning.
They will decide if he’ll die by lethal injection or spend life in prison without the possibility of parole.
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