Ramadan Abdullah Jury Faces Tough Decisions

Fresno, CA During the three week trial, jurors listened to testimony that brought many to tears including the testimony of Fresno County Sheriff's Sergeant Brent Stalker. Stalker said earlier in April, "At that point ... I knew he was dead." Stalker described the moment his partner Deputy Erik Telen died during the summer of 2001.

Attorney Mark Broughton is not associated with Abdullah's trial but worked on cases with similar issues. He said, "The jury I think naturally becomes emotionally involved because you have a person who died."

Adbullah's legal team admitted the defendant shot and killed Deputy Telen, but they believe he was insane at the time.

Jurors will choose from two charges that have drastically different outcomes. If they convict Abdullah of first degree murder plus find at least one special circumstance true then Abdullah is eligible for the death penalty.

Broughton said jurors must examine the defendant's mental state to convict Abdullah, "Mental state of first degree murder is malice, with premeditation and deliberation."

Jurors could instead convict Abdullah of second degree murder of a peace officer. With a second degree murder conviction, Abdullah would not be eligible for the death penalty but would face life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Broughton said, "Usually, we call those crimes of passion. You intended to kill somebody but you didn't think about it ahead of time."

Attorneys agree a conviction of some sort is almost certain. Then another phase begins where jurors will decide if Abdullah was sane or insane at the time of the crime. That decision could determine whether Abdullah faces the death penalty goes to prison or a state hospital.

Closing arguments are scheduled for Thursday. The jury should begin deliberating by Friday.

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