PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – The man convicted of first-degree murder in the 2012 stabbing death of his estranged girlfriend in Washington County has been sentenced to the death penalty.
Earlier this week, Jordan Clemons was convicted in the death of Karissa Kunco, whose was left in the woods.
The same jury that took just over one hour to convict Clemons of first-degree murder, took just over three hours today to decide that he should get the death penalty.
They decided that the prosecution’s aggravating circumstances, including his violent criminal history and the PFA against him, filed by the victim, was enough to outweigh any of the defense’s mitigating circumstances.
During closing arguments Thursday morning, prosecutor Chad Schneider told the jury, “Not all killings are murder, not all murders deserve the death penalty. This one does. Sometimes life in prison is just not enough.”
Defense attorney Brian Gorman countered that Clemons’ history of abuse by his father should be taken into consideration.
“Death is for the worst of the worst. You saw the man who raised him. That’s what he went home to every day. Jordan is not the worst of the worst,” Gorman said.
During the penalty phase, Robert Clemons told the jury that the anger his son had welled up inside of him was the result of physical beatings by him due to his own addiction to drugs and alcohol.
One of the aggravating factors the jurors had to consider is whether Clemons has a significant, violent criminal history.
Prosecutors detailed Clemons’ juvenile arrest for punching a teacher in Delaware County in 2006, as well as convictions for two armed robberies in Canonsburg in 2009.
Another aggravating factor is the murder happened while the victim was under a Protection from Abuse order against him.
The defense offered mitigating circumstances hoping to spare Jordan’s life including:
He was under extreme mental distress at the time, his capacity to understand the criminality of the act was impaired, his age at the time (22) as well as evidence of an abusive childhood, a brain injury from playing football, a drug history and the loss of his brother in 2011.
Clemons’ family left the courthouse without comment after the jury’s decision was read, but Kunco’s family, which had been barred from wearing any outward signs or symbols, immediately changed into tee-shirts supporting her memory. One brother-in-law showed off a tattoo of the victim he has on his back.
“We finally got justice for her,” said Donna DiPippa, Kunco’s aunt. “My whole family has been waiting for this day and it came true. She deserves it and he deserves everything he’s got.”
In the end, her family was gratified by the decision of the jury.
“It’s bittersweet for us. Obviously, Karissa’s not here, but we got justice for her – in her name, in her spirit. We’re extremely happy,” said Paul Kunco, the victim’s father. “My daughter was also, as everybody knows, a victim of domestic violence and what we’ve tried to do since we lost her is try to spread awareness about domestic violence using her good name, her spirit, her story, and now we have something else to add that we can show people – a perpetrator of domestic violence is now on death row.”
Formal sentencing will be held at 10 a.m. Friday for Clemons.
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