Jurors on Saturday spared convicted killer Todd Shepard the death penalty, and instead recommended he be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
On Thursday, jurors convicted the 43-year-old of first-degree murder after he admitted on the witness stand that he killed University City police officer Michael King on Halloween night 2008.
Jurors began the penalty phase of the trial Friday around 4:00pm. Around 8:30pm they sent the judge a note stating they were deadlocked and that their personal views were not going to change. The judge instructed them to keep talking. Jurors broke up around midnight and returned to court Saturday morning around 8:30am to continue deliberations. At 9:30am they said they had reached a decision.
When the judge read the jurors decision of life without parole, some family members of of slain officer Sgt. Michael King shook their heads in obvious disapproval.
Shepard's family members cried in relief. "Thank you Lord, thank you Lord," his sister Sarah Henderson repeated several times. She later told University City Patch, "I just than my Heavenly Father."
As Shepard was led out of the courtroom he yelled several expletives at prosecutor Robert McCulloch. He called McCulloch a "punk ass fag."
On Friday afternoon, against his attorneys and families wishes Shepard re-took the stand.
"Please don't do this Todd," his brother Thomas Shepard yelled from the back of the courtroom. "I know what I'm doing," Todd Shepard yelled back from his seat on the witness stand.
Shepard began his testimony by countering the testimony of a psychiatrist who had examined him and declared him to be suffering from delusional paranoia.
"I don't suffer from no delusions," he said. "I've been with me for 43-years and I ain't under no delusions."
Shepard said that the night he shot Sgt. King started out as a reconnaissance mission. "I was on a scouting mission," he said. "I saw him sitting in his car and I went to work." Shepard testified Thursday that he hoped the shooting would spark "a revolution."
He said "it's my belief that you have the right to kill an oppressor." He said it was "something needed, something good."
Shepard said his only regret was the pain he caused Sgt. King's family. "Civilian casualties. It's something I don't like and I didn't think about the families of the soldiers that may fall or have already fallen because of my actions."
Shepard said he felt no remorse for killing Sgt. King. "No, no, no, no, no, no. None. Not.
"I felt good...I felt justice had been done," Shepard said.
Earlier Friday, his sister Sarah Henderson pleaded with jurors to spare her brother's life.
"Todd's life still has value. He is still a human being." She said that despite his problems "he still has something he can offer."
"I ask that you not sentence my brother to death," said an emotional Henderson from the witness stand.
The judge has set sentencing for Shepard for April 13, at 9:00am.