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Jurors prayed before, after death deliberations

Associated Press
Published December 3, 2005

SARASOTA - Jurors prayed before deliberating whether 11-year-old Carlie Brucia's killer should live or die. They prayed again five hours later when a count of secret ballots showed they had voted 10-2 to recommend execution for Joseph Smith.

"We prayed for wisdom. We prayed for the families," the Rev. Francis "Ron" Kruzel, the jury foreman, said Friday.

That decision Thursday was to recommend death by lethal injection. Circuit Judge Andrew Owens ultimately will issue the sentence, most likely next month.

Carlie's abduction in a carwash parking lot as she walked home from a friend's house Feb. 1 was captured by a security camera and later broadcast around the world. The dark-haired man in a mechanic's uniform who grabbed her arm and pulled her away was soon identified as Smith.

The video was a key piece of evidence. But Kruzel, a Presbyterian minister, said it played no greater role in jurors' deliberations than other evidence.

He said a recent letter prosecutors introduced at the sentencing hearing helped jurors evaluate whether Smith was capable of being rehabilitated, an argument defense attorneys made for sparing his life. In the letter, Smith described how to incapacitate another inmate with a punch to the throat and said he would break his brother's jaw if he ever visited him in jail. Smith's brother, John, testified against him and led authorities to Carlie's body.

[Last modified December 3, 2005, 01:21:14]

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