January 10, 2013 - The Supreme Court of Virginia has upheld the capital conviction and sentence of Mark E. Lawlor for the 2008 murder of Genevieve Orange in Fairfax.
In upholding Lawlor’s sentence, the court approved the trial court’s refusal to allow the jury to hear a defense “risk assessment” expert’s opinion that Lawlor was unlikely to be violent while serving life-without-parole prison sentence. Although Virginia requires capital juries to consider whether a convicted capital murderer constitutes a “continuing threat” of future violence, the supreme court ruled that such a threat is proven simply by showing that the defendant has a “mental inclination” to commit violence; whether prison would keep him from actually doing anything violent is legally irrelevant. Since Lawlor’s expert witness based his risk assessment on the fact that Lawlor would be securely confined for life if not executed, the trial judge correctly barred the jury from considering it.
For more information see http://wamu.org/news/morning_edition/13/01/11/virginia_supreme_court_upholds_death_row_inmates_conviction
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