Sentencing phase opens in murder trial
Jurors who convicted Patrick Lorenzo will decide whether he can ever be paroled
The 12 jurors who convicted Patrick Lorenzo of killing an off-duty deputy sheriff returned yesterday in the first hearing ever in which a jury -- not a judge -- could impose the state's strictest penalty of life imprisonment without parole.
Deputy Prosecutor Scott Bell urged the jury to impose the extended sentence, a power granted to juries under a new state law, arguing that Lorenzo is a repeat offender likely to be a threat to the public.
Lorenzo, 33, who carries a mandatory sentence of life in prison after being convicted of second-degree murder last month, would be about 73 years old when being considered for parole, said his lawyer, Walter Rodby.
"The only decision you'll have to make is whether or not the appropriate government agency should someday be given the discretion under strict supervision to let Patrick see the light of day again," Rodby told jurors in his opening statement.
Bell, in his opening remarks, painted a different picture of Lorenzo, calling him a multiple offender with numerous drug felonies prior to his murder conviction and, most recently, an attempted escape from Halawa Correctional Facility.
Shortly after 9 p.m. on May 11, Lorenzo allegedly slipped out of a window, climbed a wall and jumped off a roof to a grassy area 40 feet below outside the prison's gated grounds. A guard found Lorenzo with the bones in his legs shattered, Bell said.
"He is a multiple offender whose extended term of imprisonment is necessary for the protection of the public," Bell said. "The evidence will show had he had not broken his legs, he would have been gone."
Rodby tried unsuccessfully for the court to suppress evidence from the attempted escape because the prosecutor's office has yet to press charges against Lorenzo.
Rodby also objected to the extended-term motion, saying the law is unconstitutional and puts Lorenzo at a disadvantage since the state Legislature passed the measure after the criminal trial had started.
Judge Karl Sakamoto also denied this request, saying the law states it will be applied retroactively, making Lorenzo possibly the first person affected.
The jurors will be the same group of 12, Sakamoto ruled, since they know the case from the criminal trial and already pledged to remain fair and impartial.
The jury will continue hearing arguments tomorrow in what resembles another trial as both sides present evidence and witness testimonies again.
The jury deliberated for six days last month before convicting Lorenzo of fatally shooting off-duty state Deputy Sheriff Daniel Browne-Sanchez at the former Osake Sushi Bar & Lounge on Kapiolani Boulevard on Feb. 10.
According to testimony, Lorenzo walked into the bar after closing, wearing a ski mask and bulletproof vest and carrying a semiautomatic pistol equipped with a silencer. He ordered employees to their knees, fired at one employee and missed, then shot Browne-Sanchez when he tried to subdue him.
Lorenzo has claimed he did not intend to kill anyone, but was ordered by two men to whom he owed drugs to send a message to the bar's owner. Lorenzo was also convicted of reckless endangerment and is serving 15 to 30 years for felony drug and drunken driving convictions.