The attorney for Daryl Lawrence, who fatally shot a Columbus police officer eight years ago, said he’ll appeal yesterday’s federal court decision upholding the death penalty for his client.
Kort W. Gatterdam said he’ll ask all the active judges on the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to rehear the case. Yesterday’s decision was made by a three-judge panel from the court.
In a 75-page decision, the appeals panel rejected 24 claims of error that Gatterdam argued were committed during Lawrence’s 2006 federal trial and sentencing, when a jury found him guilty of armed robbery and using a firearm to kill Columbus Police Officer Bryan Hurst.
The jury sentenced Lawrence to death for killing Hurst with malice and life in prison for shooting Hurst during a robbery.
Hurst, 33, was working special duty at the Fifth Third Bank at 6265 E. Broad St. on Jan. 6, 2005, when Lawrence entered with a drawn handgun and killed the officer during an exchange of gunfire.
Gatterdam said the inconsistency of the two sentences is a matter that the full court of 15 judges should review.
“The way the jury decided the penalty phase of the case was inappropriate for a number of reasons,” he said. “The penalty phase was supposed to be about Lawrence’s sentence, but it was more about Bryan Hurst’s life.”
Gatterdam said that if the appeals court won’t rehear the case, he will ask the U.S. Supreme Court to consider it.
This is the second time the appeals court has ruled in favor of the death sentence for Lawrence.
The first was after U.S. District Judge Gregory Frost ruled that the sentences imposed by the jury were inconsistent and asked that a new jury decide whether Lawrence should get death or life in prison.
The U.S. attorney’s office appealed Frost’s ruling. The appeals court threw it out in 2009.
The same three-judge appeals-court panel has ruled in both appeals.
By Kathy Lynn Gray - The Columbus Dispatch, Ohio (MCT)
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