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.
"There have been incidences where juries relied on my opinions and in the aftermath, those were not supported by evidence," Meloy responded.
Tim Masters, who was convicted of murder nine years ago, was released from jail after new DNA results cast doubt on his first-degree murder conviction in the 1987 slaying of a Fort Collins woman, according to The Denver Post.
The woman, Peggy Hettrick, was found dead in a field near Masters' house. The Post reported that Masters became a suspect because his bedroom window faced the field where he could see the woman's sexually mutilated body and told police he didn't report it because he thought it was a mannequin.
When they searched Masters' room, authorities told the Post , they found a large collection of knives, daggers, a machete and a ninja sword, as well as a suitcase of "pornographic depictions of the female anatomy" and numerous drawings and stories created by Masters which depicted "surprise attacks, gruesome death scenes and scenes of violence and sex."
Due to lack of physical evidence, however, the case sat dormant for nearly a decade, but in 1997 Fort Collins police contacted Meloy, who was an expert in the ground-breaking field of the pathology of sexual, according to The Post's account.
"Meloy reviewed the drawings and narratives produced by Masters, together with other evidence in the case. He concluded that Masters killed Hettrick and in doing so, had symbolically killed his own mother. Masters' mother and Hettrick looked similar, including wavy red hair, the Denver Post reported on Jan. 22.
CrimeLibrary.com, a Website belonging to Court TV, reports that when Meloy was asked to review Masters' journals and drawings, the expert reported that he'd "never seen such a voluminous production by a suspect."
Despite a lack of physical evidence, the Web site says, Meloy's interpretation of two sketches in particular was enough to take the case before a jury.
"The first depicted a figure being dragged across the ground — just as the victim had been. Masters had admitted to drawing the picture the day after Hettrick was killed. Meloy then moved to the second drawing, dated the month prior to the murder. Its details closely resembled the victim's sexual mutilation. Meloy said that it represented a rehearsal fantasy of the way in which Masters wanted to sexually mutilate someone. The similarities between this drawing and the attack on Hettrick were uncanny, so in 1999, the jury found Masters guilty of first-degree murder," CrimeLibrary.com said.
But according to The Denver Post, several detectives who worked the case never believed Masters was guilty, and in January, nine years after his conviction, Masters was set free on bond as new DNA results showed no proof of Master's involvement and indicated there was another possible suspect, who has not been publicly identified.