Jury decides cop killer's punishment

May 21, 2008 8:33:31 AM PDT
A Harris County jury handed down a sentence of life without parole in the cop killer case. Juan Quintero was facing the death penalty for the murder of Houston Police Officer Rodney Johnson. [WATCH: See the full victim impact statement given by Officer Johnson's sister]

Officer Johnson's widow was visually upset over the punishment.

Yesterday, the jury heard closing arguments from both sides before going in for deliberations Monday. They resumed deliberations and took a break for lunch and decided a verdict shortly after returning.

Hearts inside the courtroom were heavy yesterday as prosecutor John Jordan portrayed Quintero as a man so desperate to hold onto his freedom that he murdered Officer Johnson. What's more, they say Quintero showed no remorse in his videotaped confession.

"You look for some humanity in this defendant. You look for some emotion, some heart, some soul in this defendant," said Prosecutor John Jordan. "You can watch it 20 times and you won't find it."

Defense attorney Danalynn Recer fired back, saying Quintero's actions that day were a result of freak circumstances. She implored the jury to show some mercy.

"Mr. Quintero Perez doesn't have a history of violence before or after this," she told jurors. "He doesn't have a pattern where you can see things getting worse."

The fate of this convicted 34-year-old convicted cop killer hinges on whether the jury deems him a future threat or danger to society. Prosecutors say the answer is clear to them.

"You're a threat in the back seat or a patrol car. You're a threat anywhere. We can't protect ourselves from Juan Quintero," said prosecutor Denise Bradley to jurors.

The defense tried to convince the jury that the case against Quintero isn't as black and white as the prosecution had led them to believe. While prosecutors portrayed him as a cold-blooded killer, the defense characterized Quintero as a deeply religious family man.

"That it has to be one or the other, and that's not the case," said Recer. "We know from human nature that that's not the case, that he's both."

The jury was sequestered until they reached a verdict.

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