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The retrial of John Valerio continues. The Nevada man convicted of murder in 1988 remains guilty under the law for stabbing a Las Vegas prostitute 45 times, but now has a second chance at the penalty phase, where he hopes to escape the death penalty. His best scenario would be life in prison with a possibility of parole after 20 years. Valerio and his attorneys insist that the Nevada law regarding the death penalty at the time was too vague. Court is expected to resume at approximately 1:00pm PT/4:00 pm ET.
Karen Blackwell‘s body was found in the trunk of a car, wrapped in sheets from Valerio’s apartment. Her blood was found all over his apartment, and he had her keys and address book in his jacket pocket. But while his guilt is not in doubt, the question was whether his actions met the definition of “depravity of mind” required for the death penalty under Nevada law at the time.
The last day of testimony was Thursday. Dr. Norman Roitman, a psychiatrist, took the stand and talked about how people who have done horrible things in the past could change. He said that Valerio lacks psychopathic traits and has redeeming characteristics. He described Valerio today as a peaceful helper and a natural peer counselor.
Valerio himself also spoke in court on Thursday. He apologized to Blackwell’s family and said that he has changed as a person. Valerio said that in the last 31 years that he’s been incarcerated, he has read spiritual materials, associates with positive people, and makes better choices. He said that changing his ways was not a means to impress anyone else, but rather to hold himself accountable for his actions.
On Friday, court was only in session briefly, and not in the presence of the jury. The judge and attorneys for both sides conferred to discuss jury instructions.
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