Earlier today, August 24, 2012, a jury in Bexar County (San Antonio) rejected the death penalty for Lorenzo Thompson, who was convicted of the 2010 capital murder of Vanessa Pitts, an Air Force basic training graduate he had robbed at a gas station. According to the San Antonio Express-News (“Jurors quickly reject death penalty for Thompson,” August 24, 2012), it took the jury less than 30 minutes to determine that Thompson did not pose a future danger to society. He will serve a sentence of life without parole for the crime.
Here’s more from the Express-News:
Thompson, 23, was arrested days after the incident and told police repeatedly he never intended to kill Vanessa Pitts, who jumped on the outside of his stolen truck at the gas station. Witnesses said he then peeled out of the gas station with Pitts still hanging on and screaming.
She was ejected from the side of the vehicle after Thompson hit another truck — an act prosecutors, and ultimately jurors, believed was intentional.
Bexar County, which has sentenced the third highest number of people to death in Texas overall, has not imposed any new death sentences since 2009. Death-qualified juries have rejected the death penalty in at least four Bexar County cases since 2009 (including one that was moved to Victoria County). Two of those cases involved the botched robbery of a convenience store.
This is the third time this year that a death-qualified jury in Texas has rejected the death penalty and opted for a sentence of life without parole. Over the past five years, juries have rejected the death penalty in at least 17 capital murder trials.