Massachusetts has no death penalty for state cases, but that isn’t stopping federal prosecutors from seeking to execute Gary Lee Sampson. The Boston Globe says that their case began yesterday with a rambling confession from the admitted killer, who described how he stabbed an elderly man and a college student and then decided to strangle a third man so he wouldn’t get bloody–all because he wanted to steal their cars.
“I’m not a sadist. I’m just a sick murderer,” Sampson said in an 82-minute tape played for jurors who will decide whether the 44-year-old drifter who pleaded guilty last month to federal carjacking and murder charges should be executed or sentenced to life in prison without parole.
The defense painted a different portrait. Defense attorney David Ruhnke said Sampson suffered from ental illness and drank alcohol and smoked marijuana in elementary school. He said Sampson is bipolar and began taking medication for his condition last month. “At the end of this case, it is our job to convince you that there has been enough killing already and that it should stop with your verdict,” he told jurors. The case could result in the first federal execution in Massachusetts. All 12 jurors must agree on the death penalty in order for a judge to order Sampson’s execution.