death penalty news—-TEXAS

May 23


Quintero juror 'outraged' over killer's life sentence

A juror who advocated executing Juan Leonardo Quintero for murdering a
Houston policeman blasted her fellow jurors who sentenced the Mexican
national to life without parole.

In an emotional telephone interview today, Cypress secretary Cindy
Bradford, 44, called for a change in state law that requires only 10
jurors to agree to a life-without-parole sentence.

"If it takes a unanimous 12-juror vote for the death sentence," she said,
"it should be unanimous for life without parole."

Jurors deliberated about 10 hours this week before sentencing Quintero to
prison for the 2006 murder of Houston police officer Rodney Johnson.

Johnson was shot 7 times as he filled out paperwork after stopping
Quintero for a traffic violation.

Bradford said she and 1 other juror supported a death sentence. She did
not name that juror.

"I'm as outraged as anyone else about this," Bradford said. ". . .We're
telling everyone that you can enter this country illegally, plead guilty
to indecency with a child, get deported, come back anyway, execute a
police officer and that's OK. Now we get to take care of him for the rest
of his natural life, and I personally have a problem with that."

Bradford took exception to the argument of fellow jurors, who, she said,
suggested police officers are aware of the risks of their profession.

"It's like Johnson somehow deserved to get what he got. . . .I beg to
differ," Bradford said. "They don't sign up to be assassinated."

After the jury's decision to spare Quintero's life was announced, juror
Letty Burkholder of Houston said she felt the killer's life had

"He's loved by many of his family and friends," she told the media, "and
that was number one."

Quintero, in an interview with the Houston Chronicle, this week said that
he was surprised that his life was spared. Earlier he predicted that he
would be sentenced to die.

"(The life sentence) is not anything to be happy about," he said.

Bradford said she favored executing Quintero because he "shot the officer
in cold blood in the back."

"There's a flaw in the system," she said. "If it took 12 votes to get life
without parole, we'd still be sitting there. I'd be sitting there until
the judge declared a hung jury."

Other jurors who initially favored the death sentence changed their votes
as the deliberations dragged on, Bradford said.

"I got the impression that they were just tired of deliberating and wanted
to get it over with and go home," she said.

Bradford said neither she nor her family has been touched by violent

"In my opinion, the death penalty exists for a reason," she said. "I don't
necessarily feel it should be handed out like aspirin, but I believe there
are cases in which it is warranted. This case absolutely was one of them."

Bradford expressed sympathy for the Johnson family.

"I can't even imagine how they must feel at this point after everything
they've been through," she said. "I wish it had turned out differently. I
hope that, despite everything, they can move on. We did everything that a
couple of us could do, but when you're out-voted, you're out-voted."

(source: Houston Chronicle)