ARGUMENTS THAT SEEK T0 PERSUADE
THE SENTENCING BODY NOT TO RETURN A DEATH VERDICT
Here are a few samples of things that one might say at the punishment argument in a capital case where the death penalty is one the table. Some of these are geared toward states where life without parole is the alternative punishment to death. This is relevant in such jurisdictions where future dangerousness is also an issue in the calculus because defense counsel is allowed to argue that a "life sentence without parole" means that a one convicted of a capital crime will be in prison for life. See Simmons v. South Carolina, 512 U.S 154 (1994). Look at some of the death penalty web sites (1) for material that you can turn into an eloquent argument.
Justice measured by how it treats the lowest - Justice in a society is measured more by how it treats its worst men than how it treats its best.
Death penalty as irrevocable - One aspect of the death penalty that we can't ignore is that it is absolutely irrevocable. Once somebody is put to death, once (describe briefly the relevant manner of death, e.g., once the potassium cyanide pellet is dropped, once the lethal poisons flow into the vein,etc.) and the agony of the death throes is over and the person is pronounced dead, that's the end of it. That's the end of the case for (name the defendant). No matter what might happen in later years, it wouldn't matter because once you've killed him you can't bring him back.
Chances of executing wrong person - Some people believe that human life is sacred and that society has no right to take it. The rules of our government doesn't allow those folks to serve on a death penalty jury. But even if you don't believe that every human life is sacred, the thing that should nag at your conscience is the thought that you might be condemning the wrong person to death. As a matter of history, don't we know that it happens? Don't we know that we've executed people for crimes they didn't commit? Shakespeare in his play Hamlet described death as "the undiscovered country, from whose bourne no traveler returns." Before you send another human being into oblivion, you should be absolutely sure in your own conscience that it's the right person.
Innocent people mistakenly convicted - We have all read of cases where the wrong person has been convicted and imprisoned or executed for something they didn't do.(1)
Two wrongs don't make right - Two wrongs don't make a right. You have spoken. We can't argue with your decision convicting the defendant of being guilty of this crime that carries with it the possibility of a verdict of death. We may disagree and believe that the defendant is not guilty, but we cannot argue with your verdict of conviction. You have said that he (describe the capital offense, e.g., murdered a police officer, intentionally killed a convenience store operator during a robbery, etc.). And that brings us to this stage of the proceedings where you must decide the punishment. If in fact he killed the victim, we cannot bring the victim back by killing the defendant. Two wrongs don't make a right.
All lives bound together - Each of us is a thread in the single garment of life.
Which political regimes execute - Who is to say if capital punishment is civilized? This state recognizes it. As a matter of common knowledge, execution is popular in quite a few countries (Cite examples from the current list kept by Amnesty International, e.g., Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Viet Nam, Uganda) Of course, the English, the Scandinavians, the Germans, the French, the Spanish, the Australians, the Irish, the Italians, and our neighbors to the north and south, the Canadians and Mexicans, are among the many countries that don't allow executions.
Defendant's family and friends as victims - How many victims do we want as a result of the killing of (name the victim of the capital crime)? There is more than one victim here. There is no disputing the sorrow and anger that the victim's family and friends feel at his passing. But there are other victims on the opposite side of that equation. The members of (name the defendant) extended family have suffered. If you take his life, you will add to the list of unwitting victims. You'll add (name the defendant) wife to the list of victims; you'll add the children of (name the defendant) children to the list of victims.
The pagan Romans thought the only solution was to kills the Christians. Every time you look at the history of state authorized killing, think a little bit harder about what you are being asked to do in the name of the government.
Killing people who kill people - Wouldn't you think that most of, if not all, try to teach our kids that it is wrong to kill other people. Whether you are a religious person or an atheist or an agnostic, most of us take it as a core moral that human life is important. A few years back I brought my (state the name and age of the child, e.g., "my twelve-year-old son, Ted") down here to hear me argue for another man's life. On the way down the boy asked me, "Dad, why do we kill people who kill people to show that killing is wrong?" That question and the answer to it goes to the core of what we are doing here today. Why do we kill people to show that killing is wrong?
Yesterday, that same boy, now (indicate the current age) asked me, "Are they going to kill (name the defendant)? I said, "I don't know."
Taking another life doesn't show respect for human dignity - The prosecutor says to you that by your verdict of death you can show your respect for human dignity. I ask you, how by your verdict of death as to (name the defendant) can you show your respect for human dignity? How can you ever show your respect for human dignity by taking another life? How can the calculated killing of (name the defendant), a human being, be anything other than a denial that he is human?
Sympathy - Sympathy is a virtue that is seldom observed in nature. It's unique to human beings. It's perhaps the greatest treasure of the human heart. Only love could possibly be more precious.
Reply to prosecution quoting from Old Testament - Did you take notice when the prosecutor referred to the Bible? Did you notice that she chose only to refer to Old Testament concepts? In the Old Testament it says, "If there is anyone who curses his father or mother, he shall be put to death; if there is a man who commits adultery with another man's wife ... the adulterer and the adulteress shall be put to death; if there is a man who lies with his father's wife, he has uncovered his father's nakedness, both of them shall be put to death; if there is a man who lies with his daughter-in-law, both of them shall be put to death: they have committed incest; if there is a man who lies with a male as who lies with a woman, both of them have committed a detestable act: they shall be put to death; if there is a man who marries a woman and her mother, it is immorality and both of them shall be burned by fire."
It's probably safe to assume that many of you know a bit about Biblical history. If you know your Bible, you know that under the Old Testament, in times when there were no prisons and prison sentences, the death penalty was attached to some acts that would be considered misdemeanors today. However, you also recall the First Commandment God gave was, "Thou shalt not kill." There were no qualifiers put on that commandment whatsoever.
Brother's keeper - We are sometimes taught that it's our job on this earth to look out for ourselves. Self-survival - that's the essence of the law of the jungle, the law of the birds and beasts, take care of yourself and your tribe, no matter what happens to those outside the unit. Someone asked the question several thousand years ago, "Am I my brother's keeper?" Have we as a people ever answered that question? Are we under any moral or legal obligation to others?
Defendant stands in valley of death - (Name the defendant) stands in the Valley of the Shadow of Death. When you think about condemning him to die, there is no room for error in your decision.
Defendant has skills he could use to teach young inmates - You know from the evidence that (name the defendant) has some useful skills. (State the nature of the skills,e.g., "He is a carpenter and a welder.") If you see fit to assess him a life sentence, he could help teach young inmates these skills. He could help them have a chance at a productive life when they serve their sentences.
Death sentence creates death row hero - In recent years we have seen the grim renaissance of the executioner. We each execution, we create a new death row hero. We focus attention on the offender's fate rather than on the victim. Every time a death sentence is meted out, the jury unwittingly creates a new death row hero, a celebrity of sorts. The enormity of the crime becomes overshadowed by the enormity of the punishment. Don't make a death row hero out of (name the defendant). With a life sentence he becomes just a faceless number living the rest of his life in a cage. No stories will be written about him. No one will care if he lives or dies. Don't give him celebrity status.
Passive death by lethal injection - Human nature is such that we die more bravely on our feet. It would be easier on a condemned man to show courage and composure in his last moments if the final act required of him were a positive one such as walking the scaffold to the hangman's noose rather than passively waiting the prick of the needle.
Doesn't take bravery or courage to vote to kill a person - Perhaps the prosecutor will tell you that the times in which we live require the courage and bravery on your part to vote the death penalty. Each of us has a different definition of what it takes to be courageous. But I ask you: Do you see courage and bravery in voting to deliberately and premeditatedly kill another human being?
Killing for vengeance not deterrence - pickpocket story - Why do we kill? If you cut away all the fat, it is probably for retribution and vengeance. It couldn't be much of a deterrent because we've had he death penalty for years and there are hundreds and hundreds of people on death row. Many countries have had the death penalty. England once had the death penalty for 172 offenses. They put adulterers to death. They would put pickpockets to death. The interesting thing is that they had public executions. They would bring a pickpocket out, convict him, hang him by the neck in public so that the crowds could gather around and assemble and see the fate that would befall pickpockets. Do you know what? They found out that when they executed pickpockets there were more people at the execution getting their pockets picked than any other time. It doesn't deter crime. That's not the question today, whether it deters crime or whether its just retribution. The question is whether, under the circumstances you have heard, this man should be put to death.
Death issue is juror's decision alone - If you decide that (name the defendant) is to die, it will be your decision alone. It is not the judge's decision. In this state the judge simply pronounces the sentence according to your verdict. It is not the executioner's decision. The executioner simply carries out your command. The decision is yours and yours alone.
Jurors can't shift responsibility - To those of you who, as you sit here now, tend to agree with me, bear with me for awhile, for I too know that brevity is the soul of wit. To those who of you who may tend to disagree with me as you sit here now, keep and open mind. To those of you who have formed no opinion at all at this stage, but are waiting to hear my remarks, I hope my words will convince you that this is not a death penalty case. Because it is the opinion of the twelve men and women who sit in front of me who make the decisions that count. It is your decision alone that counts.
You can never shift the responsibility for the sentence in this case. You can never explain that the rest overpowered you, because you, each and every one vote, and only you and you alone can cast that vote. If your personal vote is that (name the defendant) must be sentenced to death, it must be done by each of you as an individual. It must be your individual, deliberate, cool, premeditated act and no one else's.
Prosecutor's power to seek the death penalty - We all know that the prosecutor decided to seek the death penalty in this case. He didn't have to do that. If they don't file a notice of intent to seek death, the defendant gets an automatic life sentence. Have you ever asked yourself what criteria the prosecutor uses to exercise this omnipotent power to decree that the death penalty will be sought against some men who commit capital murder and not against others. I don't have that unfettered power to make that decision and I wouldn't want it.
Death is death - Death is death, regardless of what form it takes. You cannot insulate yourself by saying that you are a member of this jury and that you only voted that (name the defendant) be (state the manner of execution, e.g., given a lethal injection). The end result is the same. If you vote to authorize somebody else to (state the manner of execution, e.g., inject the lethal chemicals), it is just like you are giving the injection. You are not going to be there, of course. No one will require you to watch. But under our system (describe the manner of execution, e.g., the injection cannot be given or the switch cannot be pulled) unless you (state the action the jury must take to return a death verdict, e.g., answer the special aggravation issues "yes"). If you do so, you are saying, "Let him die by (state the manner of execution,e.g., lethal injection).
Injection of fatal chemicals (1), (2) if prosecution has its way - (Gesture to the prosecution table) They want you to die an undignified death, (call the defendant by his given name). It'll gratify their wishes if and make them feel good about their job and make their argument a winning one if they come for you some day as you sit in a prison cell. They'll strap you to a cart and roll you into a dark room up against a wall. And there will be long tubes. They'll hook the tubes to your arm, and you will watch as the liquid circles through the tubes, plain as death. You won't be able to do anything about it because you'll be strapped down tight. You'll die from an intentional, premeditated act of poisoning if they (indicate the prosecution table) have their way. Injection of fatal chemicals - syringe demonstration - The executioner will fill big hypodermic syringes with sodium thiopental, an anesthetic and depressant designed to cause unconsciousness; pancuronium bromide, a paralyzing agent similar to the poison used on arrow points by South American Indians that paralyzes the inmate's lungs and the diaphragm muscle; and potassium chloride, a salt that stops the inmate's heartbeat by inducing cardiac arrest. The executioner will inject these chemicals with a syringe like this (Display a facsimile syringe.) into an IV that will flow into (name the defendant) veins. His face will tighten and tears will come to his eyes. He may whimper. Perhaps he will make no sound. If the sodium thiopental works he may be unconscious. And if it doesn't work, we won't know if he is conscious because the pancuronium bromide has paralyzed his lungs and diaphragm thus preventing him from crying out. If he's conscious, he'll begin to feel death creeping in. His breath will come in wheezing rasps. His fingers will tremble. Then his body will stiffen and move no more. A doctor will step forward, place a stethoscope on (name the defendant) chest, shine a penlight into his eyes, and say "I pronounce this man dead." See Baze v. Rees, 553 U.S. 35 (2008) upholding the Eighth Amendment constitutionality of the three-drug cocktail lethal injection. Describing the official procedures followed in an execution - The (name the state) department of corrections follows certain official procedures in an execution. (Determine the method of execution used in your jurisdiction and describe with precise accuracy the gruesome mechanics of the procedure used to execute inmates in your jurisdiction, e.g., The prisoner is moved from the Ellis Unit to the Huntsville Unit, about thirteen miles away, where the death chamber is located. The inmate is transferred early in the morning and taken to one of eight holding cells adjacent to the death chamber. During the day, the prisoner is entitled to visits from the prison chaplain or his personal spiritual advisor and his attorney and approved family and friends. After 6:00 p.m., only the chaplain is allowed to visit. The final meal is served between 6:30 and 7:30 p.m. At the hour of execution, the inmate is taken from his holding cell and walked to the death chamber where he is secured to a hospital gurney, or cot. One of his arms is fastened to a small board protruding from the gurney. A medical assistant then inserts an intravenous catheter into a vein in his arm. The witnesses are then allowed at that point to enter the viewing area of the death chamber. They stand behind a rail separating them from the inmate by four or five feet. The inmate is then allowed to make a final statement. When the statement is completed, the warden announces that the execution can proceed. The executioner stands behind a wall containing two small covered windows, one connecting the the tube of the IV and another for communication. At the warden's announcement, the executioner injects a neutral solution into the prisoner's arm. Then he injects a fatal combination of sodium thiopental; Pavulon (pancuronium bromide), a muscle relaxant; and potassium chloride to stop the heart.) [Note: Every state employing death penalty should have a official execution protocol that will set forth specifically the mechanical procedure employed in putting condemned prisoners to death; if your state does not have such an official protocol and leaves the mechanics to the discretion of the State Department of Corrections, a systemic challenge should be made to the administration of the death penalty on Eighth Amendment grounds. See, for example, the Maryland case of Vernon L. Evans Jr. where a state court held that the checklist of lethal injection procedures was a regulation that had to comply with the requirements of the state administrative procedures statute.] Description of execution by electrocution (1) - The prosecutor talks much about the death penalty and whether there are mitigating circumstances sufficient to preclude imposing a death sentence. That's lawyer talk. What the prosecutor is really asking you do is to kill (name the defendant). It's as simple as that. S/he is asking you asking you to cause (name the jurisdiction) to pull a switch that will put 5000 volts of electricity through the body of of the (name the defendant). Not the way (name the defendant) looks as he sits here today, but only after his head is first shaved so that they can put on the oil which will allow the electricity to flow more surely through his body. Not the way he looks today, but after they put him in a diaper, because when you are electrocuted you lose control of your bodily functions and they want to make sure that the death room is clean. Not the way he looks today, but after they put a mask over his head, not so he can't see what is going to happen, but so that the witnesses who by law view the electrocution can't see his eyes bursting from their sockets and blood gushing from his nose as the voltage hits him. Description of execution in the gas chamber (1) - In the gas chamber, a person is strapped in a chair. The guards close the door and seal it. Then they drop the little pill into a bowl of acid. The fumes start to come up. Because of the straps, the condemned is not able to move away from the fumes. He may try not to breathe, but he has to. Then, slowly and painfully, he strangles to death. It would not be a sight most of us would want to witness. It is even a horrible thought to put in your mind, but it is a necessary thought, because you have to think about the consequences of a death verdict. You have to think about all the bad things: the straining against the straps, the gagging, the loss of all bodily functions. Is that what you want for a human being? Is that what you want? Is it? Perhaps the decision, even though it is your decision, is best left for God, not man. Death by hanging (1) - (Describe the gruesome mechanics.) Death by firing squad (1) - (Describe the gruesome mechanics.)
Last public execution (hanging) described - The last public execution here in the United States was in 1936. The description of it was as follows: "This was the hanging of a 22-year-old black man named Rainey Bethea at Owensboro, Kentucky. Bethea had been convicted of the slaying of a 70-year-old white woman. The hanging was organized by the county sheriff, a woman named Florence Thompson. She deliberately had the scaffold erected in a field so that thousands could witness the execution, which she set for sunrise. So many people invaded Owensboro for the spectacle that terrified local blacks fled the town, especially after receiving lynching threats from drunken white revelers. All night hanging parties were the order of the day. By 5:00 a.m. the following morning, 20,000 people were in the field, including over 200 sheriffs and deputies from various parts of the United States. Only six blacks attended, two of them women. When the hangman was testing the trap door, it snapped open to the loud cheers of the crowd. Bethea arrived at 5:12 a.m., accompanied by a Catholic priest. When the hangman pulled the bolt, there was a loud cheer. The still warm body was attacked by souvenir hunters. They tore off pieces of clothing; some even attempted to cut pieces of flesh from Bethea's dangling body. Hundreds of spectators thronged around the scaffold while two doctors examined the body with stethoscopes. There was a large groan when the doctors detected heart beats. At 5:45 a.m., Bethea was pronounced dead. At that moment, several people began fighting over the hood that covered his head."
Life sentence rather than death -calculating number of years defendant will not have a single moment of liberty - (Name the defendant) is (state the defendant's age). Think what it is going to be like for the rest of his life to have a bell rung in the morning at 6:30, to roll out of his cot or bunk, to have 30 minutes to perform his chores, to be regimented minute by minute, hour by hour, day by day, for the rest of his life. Right now he's only (state the defendant's age). What is his life expectancy? Perhaps, 65 or 70 years, something like that? Let's assume that (name the defendant) dies at (state the hypothesized age, 65, 70, etc.). That's (state the number of years) during which (name the defendant) will not have one waking moment of his own. The only time he will have time that he can call his own is when he is sleeping, and, even then, he can't escape the ghoulish nightmares of this crime and the fate that awaits him after death. Isn't that enough punishment for one group of humans to exact on another?
Propriety of sentence of life without parole - By your verdict of conviction, you've already condemned (name the defendant). He is already dead in the free world, in your world and mine. He will never walk the streets again with his (indicate the family members or relatives, e.g., daughter, son). You've already guaranteed that. Isn't life without hope of parole a sufficient punishment? We're not dealing with a law that gives the possibility to parole to people convicted of crimes. The law that governs this case guarantees that the key is tossed away and (name the defendant) will never ever walk the streets again. That decision is made. The only real question that you have to grapple with is whether one killing justifies another.
Defendant will die in prison in ordinary course or by execution - You have already decided that (name the defendant) will die in prison. That decision was made when you rendered your verdict at the guilt stage of this trial. Once you decided that s/he committed this crime, you also decided where he would die. He is either going to die in prison as the result of the ordinary course of of his life or he's going to die in a "death chamber" (describe the chamber in your jurisdiction, (1) e.g., a little green room, a room that has windows for people to watch him die, witnesses who care to come to such a thing, a room that has a chair with straps on it, and a little bowl full of sulphuric acid under it.) And he'll die when (indicate the action that kills, e.g. somebody drops a pellet of cyanide into the acid). How he dies in prison is your decision. Life without parole as sufficient deterrent - If deterrence is what is needed, the best that can be said about the death penalty is that it is an effective deterrent for one person. But is not life without parole sufficient for that purpose? By asking for your compassion, for your mercy, by asking you to spare the life of (name the defendant), I don't want you to think for a moment that I am asking for leniency, because I am not. There is nothing lenient about being condemned to spend the rest of one's life, day after day, month after month, year after year, behind prison walls in a felon's cage. By your verdict, the defendant, (name the defendant) will never know what it like to sleep in an unlocked room. For the rest of his days on this earth, his world will be circumscribed by the cold, gray stone walls of a prison. He will never again be free to walk among the hills on a sunny spring day. He will never be free again to take his children to the park, to the zoo or to the movies. He will never again enjoy the true meaning of the word "freedom." At a minimum, by your verdict, (name the defendant) will enter state prison with no possibility of ever being considered for parole, with no possibility of ever coming out of prison other than feet first in a hearse. In a way, a sentence of life without parole recalls the words that Dante used in describing the gates of Hell. Above them is written: "Abandon hope, all ye who enter."
Life without parole - Let's talk a little bit about "life without the possibility of parole," because sometimes the phrase gets thrown around like it's a piece of cake, like there is nothing to it. Let's think about it for a moment. Let's think about having to spend the rest of your life in a five foot by eight foot concrete cell with a metal door, a steel toilet and a cot. (Add if applicable: And you share this cage and its facilities with a stranger chosen by prison authorities to be your roommate.) It is like living in your bathroom for the rest of your life with no way to get out. You sleep in it. You eat in it, unless you are allowed to go to chow hall. You live your life in a tiny room (Add if applicable: with someone else.) Somebody tells you for the rest of your life when to get up, when to shower, when to go to bed. Someone else tells you what you can read. Someone tells you what you can eat. Imagine in your mind never being able ever to eat a home cooked meal or to go a hamburger joint or a fast food outlet or a restaurant. You dine on institutional food for all your days. You can't go to a movie, to the theater, to a baseball game, for a walk in the woods or on a beach, or just for a simple drive in the country. Some of you love nature and the outdoors. Imagine never being able to hike or hunt or fish or even to look up at the sky. How about only being able to see the people that love you and have stuck by you during visiting hours with somebody else standing over you, monitoring you under constant surveillance.
Value of defendant's life as human being - There is value to human life. We wouldn't be here today if we didn't consider (name the victim) life to have great value. But, by the same token, (name the defendant) life is also valuable. He had not forfeited the value of his life by the terrible acts that have been attributed to him. Despite what the prosecution might say, he's still a human being.
Value of life - baptism analogy - (Provide a personal family experience from your own life that highlights and/or contrasts with the defendant's deprived life, e.g., "Last Sunday my little boy was baptized, and as I held him over the baptismal font and watched the priest pour water over his forehead, and, for some reason, I thought of (name the defendant). There were twenty-five family members there - all for my little boy, and I thought, (name the defendant) never had this. I thought, we are celebrating the value of my little boy's life and this week I must defend the value of another human being's life. It does not make sense to say that life is so precious in a three-month-old child and that it is without any value in a (state the defendant's age) man/woman.)
Weighing aggravating and mitigating circumstances not a mechanical process - Mitigation is not a numbers game. Its not a situation where we can say that stabbing weighs three pounds, a killing weighs two pounds, and background is one pound. The weight to be given to each of these aggravating and mitigating circumstances must come from three places, from your brain and its power to reason, from your heart where compassion and understanding reside and from your gut where your intuition and instinct guide you. If we stop using our heads, our hearts, and our guts to make decisions about the importance of these life/death factors, we lose our dignity and our right to call ourselves civilized.
Answering life/death question not a clerical act - In effect, the prosecutor told you in her argument that your function is merely clerical - look at the circumstances in aggravation and look at the circumstances in mitigation, add them up, balance them, and there is your decision. It's not that simple. Life is sacred. Because human life is valuable, the decision whether or not to kill another human being can never be reduced to a simple clerical function.
Jury instructions - The judge had told you (or when the punishment arguments have been completed his Honor will instruct you) about the law of punishment that applies at this final stage of deliberations. This is the time that you must decide whether or not to issue a death penalty for (name the defendant). You are instructed by the court that (indicate and explain the aspects of the punishment instructions that work to the defense's benefit, e.g, instructions re mitigation.)
Last words spoken for defendant - These are the last words that will ever be spoken in this courtroom on behalf of (name the defendant) before you have to make a decision whether he lives or dies. How do I help you in making this enormous moral choice. At the outset, even though I have been a lawyer for (indicate the number of years) I need to tell you that I feel woefully inadequate do this. I just don't know the right way of reasoning with you, pleading with you, maybe even begging you, for this man not to die. For the last (indicate the period of time) I have gotten to know. I am not ashamed to tell you he has become my friend. I have become his advocate - the person who speaks on his behalf, as his representative, to you. But, as his friend, I also want to speak in his behalf, for his benefit and in his interest, in talking about what you should do with him. So in the next few minutes that are allotted to me, I hope you will understand what I am saying comes not just from my head but also from my heart.
Verdict during punishment hearing different from guilt stage - In order to convict the defendant all (state the number,e.g., twelve) of you have to come to a unanimous decision. In order to find an accused person not guilty, all (state the number, e.g., twelve) of you would have to come to a unanimous decision. So with respect to to finding him guilt of a capital crime, all of you have come to a unanimous decision to find that he did what he was accused of doing. That decision, "Did he do it?" you have made. The crime that you have convicted him of is eligible for (indicate the permissible punishment options for the capital offense, e.g., one of two punishments - life without parole or death by lethal injection). That's what your verdict at this stage of the trial is about. You are to decide the issue of punishment, not guilt. All (state the number, e.g. twelve) of you have to agree unanimously if you want to kill him. But if any one of you decides that you don't want to kill him, you can sign the verdict that says, "We can't unanimously agree that the death penalty ought to be imposed" (or vote "No" to the special issue). That is why I say these deliberations are different from those at the first part of this trial, the guilt hearing. You can render a verdict without sitting in there for days until you come to a unanimous verdict. That's the difference. If, when you go back to the jury room, one or more of you say, "I or we don't want to kill (name the defendant)," you have the option of signing the verdict that reflects your reasoned judgment, the verdict that says " We can't unanimously agree that the death penalty ought to be imposed." Each one of you has the individual power not to kill (name the defendant). You have that power in your signature. You have the power to go back to your family and to say, "I sat on a murder trial involving a tragic death, and it was a terrible and heart-wrenching experience. But I decided by signing the verdict (or voting on the special issue) to spare the life of (name the defendant). I decided by my verdict not to kill again. I stopped the carnage, and, at the same time, I condemned him to a felon's cell for the rest of his life." You have the power to say to your family that you did justice and that you were responsible for stopping any more blood from being spilled.