Reflecting a trend across the nation, Tulsa County jurors are increasingly reluctant to levy the death penalty, handing out the ultimate punishment in just one case filed since 2007, a Tulsa World analysis shows. It’s not for lack of trying by prosecutors. Local prosecutors sought the death penalty against nine murder defendants since Jan. 1, 2007. Jurors agreed on a death penalty in one case.
County juries also gave the death penalty to two other defendants since 2007 in cases filed earlier, records show. In another case, a defendant asked for a death sentence but a judge sentenced him to life in 2008. Doug Drummond, first assistant district attorney, said factors including a defendant’s age, relationship to the victim and willingness to accept life without parole affect whether jurors support the death penalty. Jurors often expect DNA evidence or a confession to be convicted of guilt “beyond any doubt.”