Question: Why Don't More Death Penalty Sentences Occur in Rutherford County and Elsewhere in our State?

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With more and more murder trials being heard in Rutherford County in 2014, some residents have spoken out suggesting more convictions should equal more death sentences. Regardless of where you may stand on this issue, the written law specifies what can end with a death penalty sentencing and what cannot end in a death sentencing.  District Attorney Bill Whitesell stated…

One of the murder trials schedueld to take place in 2014, deals with Jacob Pearman who allegedly killed his wife in the Blackman home on Valentines Day, earlier this year.


Whitesell told WGNS that certain requirements must be met in a court of law for the death penalty to be pursued. Read further details at (Below).

Statutory Aggravating Circumstance:


  • (1)The murder was especially heinous, atrocious, cruel or depraved (or involved torture)
  • (2) The capital offense was committed during the commission of, attempt of, or escape from a specified felony (such as robbery, kidnapping, rape, sodomy, arson, oral copulation, train wrecking, carjacking, criminal gang activity, drug dealing, or aircraft piracy)
  • (3)The defendant committed ‘mass murder’ which is defined as the murder of three or more persons whether in a single episode or at different times within a forty-eight month period
  • (4) The defendant knowingly created a grave risk of death for one or more persons in addition to the victim of the offense
  • (5) The murder was committed by means of a bomb, destructive device, explosive, or similar device
  • (6) The murder was committed for pecuniary gain or pursuant to an agreement that the defendant would receive something of value
  • (7) The defendant caused or directed another to commit murder, or the defendant procured the commission of the offense by payment, promise of payment, or anything of pecuniary value
  • (8) The murder was committed to avoid or prevent arrest, to effect an escape, or to conceal the commission of a crime
  • (9) The defendant has been convicted of, or committed, a prior murder, a felony involving violence, or other serious felony
  • (10) The capital offense was committed by a person who is incarcerated, has escaped, is on probation, is in jail, or is under a sentence of imprisonment
  • (11)The murder was committed against a person less than 12 years of age and then defendant was 18 years of age or older
  • (12)The victim was especially vulnerable due to a significant handicap or disability, whether mental or physical and the defendant knew or reasonably should have known of such a handicap or disability
  • (13) The victim was a government employee, including peace officers, police officers, federal agents, firefighters, judges, jurors, defense attorneys, and prosecutors, in the course of his or her duties
  • (14)The victim was a correctional officer
  • (15)The murder was committed against a national, state, or local popularly elected official, due to or because of the official’s lawful duties or status, and the defendant knew that the victim was such an official
  • (16)Defendant was involved in killings in the course of or attempt of aggravated child neglect and aggravated child abuse
  • (17)The defendant knowingly mutilated the body of the victim after death

Additional Items Examined:

  • The murder was committed in the course of an act of terrorism
  • The victim or the murder was 70 years of age or older
  • Murder committed against any emergency medical or rescue worker, emergency medical technician, paramedic or firefighter, who was engaged in the performance of official duties, and the defendant knew or reasonably should have known


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death, death penalty, death sentence
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