Abdullah Jury Has a Question

April 21, 2008 8:19:57 PM PDT
A Fresno County jury on Monday completed their first full day of deliberating the fate of Ramadan Abdullah, and they asked a question. The court would not reveal details of the question. A court official says jurors want to hear portions of testimony. The jury is going through nearly three weeks of testimony and must decide between two verdicts, one of which carries the death penalty.

Abdullah sat through his entire trial showing very little emotion. All sides agree, the 26-year-old defendant shot and killed Fresno County Sheriff's Deputy Erik Telen.

ABC 30 Legal Analyst Tony Capozzi said, "The issue of guilty is pretty clear. The facts are pretty much agreed to on both sides." But Capozzi expects jurors will have a tough time deciding if Abdullah is guilty of first degree murder or second degree murder.

A first degree murder conviction plus special circumstances would make Abdullah eligible for the death penalty. The defense asked for a second degree murder conviction because the man would not be eligible for the death penalty. The defense team claimed Abdullah was insane when he murdered Deputy Telen in 2001.

Whatever the outcome, the trial will then enter a second phase where jurors will judge the defendant's sanity. Capozzi predicted that would be a more difficult phase, "It's just very difficult for a lay person to make a determination as to whether or not someone was sane a number of years ago. That's not easy to do."

Marcus Wesson is the last man in Fresno County to be sentenced to death. In 2005, a jury deliberated nearly two and a half weeks before convicting Wesson. He's convicted of murdering nine of his children also raping and molesting his daughters and nieces.

It is almost impossible to guess who long Abdullah's jury will be deliberating. Attorneys knew this process could take a long time, so they notified the jury this trial could continue through the month of May. The judge will reveal the juror's question Tuesday morning, and jurors will continue with deliberations.


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