Top Court says Execution On
Every argument made in an attempt today to save an Arkansas death row inmate from execution was rejected by the state's Supreme Court.
But the denial was not unanimous.
Jerry Lard remains destined for an execution carried out by the state...punishment for his execution-style murder of a Trumann police officer during a 2011 traffic stop.
But two Supreme Court justices would like to see the sentencing phase of Lard's trial done over.
Here is why.
"There was one person that committed this awful crime, and that's Jerry Lard," said Donald Schmidt at a hearing last year. "And Jerry Lard deserves the death penalty and I hope to God the state of Arkansas carries it out."
Schmidt, father to Officer Jonathan Schmidt, testified before lawmakers almost a year ago as the future of the death penalty in Arkansas was being debated.
The punishment remains, and the man who killed Schmidt's son still has a date with death after the Arkansas Supreme Court found no reversible error and affirmed Lard's convictions and sentences.
"What's your name bud?" "Jerry." "Jerry?" "Lard." "Lard?"
That is how Officer Schmidt's dash cam video of the traffic stop sounded when Officer Schmidt first came into contact with Jerry Lard in the back seat of the vehicle Schmidt had just stopped in April of 2011.
Upon learning that Lard had a warrant out for his arrest for non-payment of child support, Officer Schmidt returned to the car. That is when Lard opened fire with his pistol.
While Lard's guilt was never in question, the inmate argued that the dash cam video and audio of his crime played for jurors inflamed them to the point where a sentence of death was almost certain.
The justices disagreed, stating that the video was not only relevant but objective (as opposed to an eye-witness account). While admitting that seeing and hearing a defendant during the commission of a crime does likely prejudice a jury against that defendant, that risk does not outweigh the value and relevance of the evidence.
But two justices agreed with Lard that the introduction into evidence of a tattoo designed by Lard and on his back that reads "Hell Bound" was highly prejudicial and shouldn't have been allowed.
The pair also objected to the testimony of two jailers who claim to have overheard Lard telling cell mates his only regret was not killing both officers.
The dissent by Justices Corbin and Hannah is not enough to get Lard a new sentencing phase, so like Schmidt's father had hoped...the execution is still on.
Air date: January 9th, 2014