Gateway murder trial

First degree murder – and the death penalty (possibilities)

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Fred Cooper is charged with two counts of first degree murder, a capital felony and one count of burglary.

There are certain elements that must be present for the jury to convict on first degree murder.

The defendant must have made a conscious decision to commit the murder. They also had to have committed the murder while committing another crime. In this case, the burglary and murder of another person, both count as the other crime.

For a capital felony, the crime is punishable by death or life in prison without parole.

Death Penalty

To qualify for a death penalty, the case must have aggravating circumstances and/or insufficient mitigating circumstances.

Aggravated circumstances include:

  • A capital felony was committed by someone previously convicted of a felony
  • The defendant was previously convicted of another capital felony or felony involving the use or threat of violence to the person
  • The defendant knowingly created a great risk of death to many persons
  • The capital felony was committed while the defendant committed or attempted to commit another qualifying crime – in this case burglary.
  • The capital felony was a homicide and it was committed in a cold calulated and premeditated manner without any pretense of moral or legal justification.

Mitigating circumstances include:

  • Defendant has no prior criminal activity
  • Defendant was under the influence of extreme mental or emotional disturbance
  • The victim was a participant or consented to the act
  • The defendant was an accomplice to a capital felony committed by another and their participation was minor
  • The defendant was under extreme duress
  • The defendant didn’t have the capacity to understand their conduct

The prosecution can present victim impact evidence to demonstrate the victim’s uniqueness as an individual and the loss to the community by the victim’s death


Written by Melissa Hudson

October 15, 2008 at 10:54 am

Posted in Day 10

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