POTEAU — A jury in eastern Oklahoma has recommended the death penalty for a Talihina man convicted of killing his girlfriend by setting her on fire.
The jury of seven men and five women deliberated about two hours Wednesday before recommending death for 31-year-old Donnie Lee Harris Jr. Earlier in the week, the jury convicted Harris of first-degree felony murder in the death of 25-year-old Kristi Ferguson of Pocola.
Prosecutors allege that Harris covered Ferguson with gasoline on Feb. 18, 2012, then lit her on fire. Ferguson died 19 days later of complications from her injuries.
Janis Garner, a mitigation specialist for the defense, testified during the sentencing phase that Harris continued to grieve the loss of Ferguson, whom he'd planned his life around. Garner also said Harris suffers flashbacks and nightmares, repeatedly re-experiencing that night.
But prosecutors said the crime against Ferguson was cruel and heinous and warranted the death penalty, rather than life in prison without parole.
"For 19 days she felt the pain of those injuries — every minute of every day for 19 days," Assistant District Attorney Margaret Nicholson said.
Harris' defense attorney, Peter Astor, argued for mercy, saying his client has shown remorse for the crime.
"Surrounding the aggravators and mitigators is the fact that we're still human and can take pity on someone just because we want to," Astor said.
A local newspaperreports that formal sentencing is scheduled for Feb. 6.