Forty-six-year-old Teresa Sievers was found dead in her kitchen with the back of her head bashed in. Now, her husband Mark Sievers and co-defendant Jimmy Ray Rodgers stand accused of the killing. It’s a sensational story due in large part to the fact that Sievers was a Florida doctor and her husband is the one who stands accused of masterminding her murder.
Rodgers and Sievers both face the death penalty if convicted. A third man, Curtis Wayne Wright, confessed to taking part in the murder and then fingered the other two. Wright has been offered a plea deal for his testimony.
The question is: How good is Wright’s testimony?
The Testimony of Curtis Wayne Wright
Police have Wright on video with Rodgers at an area Walmart. Initially, Wright lied to police and said that he was in Missouri at the time of the murder. He said the person that they were pointing out on the video was not him. Apparently, he later recanted and is now testifying for the state. Further, Wright has used the excuse that he has serious memory issues caused by Lyme disease. The defense pressed Wright on his memory problems.
The state showed the jury graphic pictures of the murder directly after putting Wright on the stand. A medical examiner testified that there 17 impact wounds. Teresa Siever’s mother left the courtroom while the pictures were being displayed.
Death Penalty Trials
Capital cases have a different set of rules than other trials. Since the stakes are higher, the prosecution and the state impose greater pressures on the state to make their case. Among one of the most notable changes is the presence of 12 jurors as opposed to 6. Additionally, jury selection is conducted more cautiously to prevent the case from being overturned on appeal.
Jurors tend to be asked questions related to their belief in capital punishment. For obvious reasons, jurors who are opposed to capital punishment would not necessarily be qualified to sit on a jury in a death penalty trial.
Capital murder trials also have different phases. The first phase of the trial is simply to determine the guilt or innocence of the defendant. If the defendant is found guilty, the state must then prove that at least one aggravating (as opposed to mitigating) factor exists that makes this particular defendant a good candidate for the death penalty.
In Florida, simply being charged with first-degree murder is not enough to warrant the death penalty. There must be one of sixteen aggravating factors present and the prosecution must prove these beyond a reasonable doubt. One of those aggravating factors is that the murder was for pecuniary gain, which is what the state is alleging here.
Talk to a West Palm Beach Defense Attorney Today
If you’re facing capital punishment, you need an attorney who has defended clients in these cases before. Not only do capital murder trials operate differently, but the burden of proof is higher for the prosecution. Call the West Palm Beach criminal attorneys at the Skier Law Firm, P.A. We have the experience you need.