Mercy unwarranted for Underwood, prosecutor says

By Johnny Johnson Modified: March 7, 2008 at 3:21 pm •  Published: March 7, 2008
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NORMAN — A Cleveland County prosecutor told jurors this afternoon that nothing they heard that might evoke sympathy for Kevin Underwood compares to the horrific details of his crime.

"Do not lose sight of what he did. He killed a 10-year-old child, and everyone's telling us he'd do it again if he could," Assistant District Attorney Susan Caswell said during closing arguments of the penalty phase of Underwood's trial.

Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty. Jurors are expected to begin deliberating later this afternoon.

Last week, a jury took less than 30 minutes to convict Underwood of the 2006 murder of Jamie Rose Bolin, Underwood's upstairs neighbor at a Purcell apartment complex.

In his closing arguments about 2 p.m., defense attorney Wayne Woodyard described Underwood as ""a troubled and disturbed young man."

"You have the power to take his life, and you have the authority to take his life. But do you really have a reason to take his life."

He said the state's reason for imposing the death penalty -- retribution -- "sounds a lot like revenge."

"If you take a life, you lose yours. Is that enough for you? It's not going to bring her back," Woodyard said, referring to Underwood's victim.

Caswell said that in a desperate attempt to save their client's life, defense attorneys mentioned facts including:

— The teasing Underwood took as a child;

The fact that he has family and friends who love him.

The fact that Underwood wouldn't be around children in prison.

Those factors combined can't compare to the continuing danger Underwood poses and the heinous, atrocious and cruel nature of the crime, Caswell said.

Defense expert's findings challenged

This morning, a defense expert admitted he provided opinions "not supported by the evidence" that led to a murder conviction in Colorado.

Dr. Reid Meloy, the state's expert rebuttal witness in the capital murder trial of Kevin Ray Underwood is a respected psychologist who has served as an expert witness for the prosecution of Oklahoma City bombing defendants Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols.

But a recent development in Colorado, involving one of the doctor's earlier cases, may have hindered his effectiveness today. A man from Fort Collins, Colo., who served nearly a decade behind bars, largely due to Meloy's expert testimony, was set free in January.

Meloy testified this morning as the last witness in the sentencing phase of Underwood's trial. A jury will deliberate this afternoon whether Underwood should get life imprisonment or death by lethal injection. Prosecutors relied on Meloy's expert testimony to help prove the existence of a continued threat.

Meloy said he didn't specifically interview Underwood but reviewed the reports submitted by defense mental health experts. Meloy said he found nothing incorrect in the defense experts' reports. Defense attorneys asked Meloy whether he had ever been wrong, and whether juries had ever relied upon his wrong opinion.


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