Jurors were unable yesterday to reach a unanimous verdict on whether Patrick Lorenzo, convicted last month of second-degree murder for shooting an off-duty deputy sheriff, merited an extended sentence for his crime.
Mistrial means killer could get parole
A state judge has declared a mistrial in the first extended-sentencing trial here since the pertinent law was passed in October.
Patrick Lorenzo, 33, was convicted last month of second-degree murder for shooting off-duty Deputy Sheriff Daniel Browne-Sanchez during a botched robbery. The jury that convicted him was asked to decide whether he should be sentenced to an extended sentence of life without parole. Normally, second-degree murder is punishable by life imprisonment with the possibility of parole.
But the jurors, who had been hearing the case since Monday, notified the court Wednesday that they were unable to reach a unanimous verdict on whether Lorenzo was a multiple offender for whom an extended term was necessary for the protection of the public.
Circuit Judge Karl Sakamoto accepted the jury's decision yesterday and set a date of March 11 to sentence Lorenzo to life with parole. The Hawaii Paroling Authority will decide the minimum time Lorenzo will serve before he is eligible for parole.
But prosecutors indicated they might convene a new jury and try again to get an extended sentence.
Hawaii's extended-sentencing law was amended in response to a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that Hawaii's practice was unconstitutional because it left it up to the court's discretion. The new law requires that a jury, not a judge, decide whether an extended sentence is warranted. Prosecutors believe the new law does not require that the same jury that convicted a defendant decide the sentence.
Defense attorney Walter Rodby thanked the jurors for their hard work and called their inability to reach a unanimous decision a "rejection of the state's attempt to impose an unconstitutional law" on his client.
"This jury told the judge Patrick should not get an extended term of imprisonment, and that's the end of it," he said.
Retrying the penalty phase again would only be a waste of taxpayer time and resources, Rodby said.
Deputy Prosecutor Scott Bell disagreed, saying the jury's inability to reach a unanimous verdict does not mean they rejected an extended term. "They just couldn't be unanimous," Bell said. "This matter is completely unresolved."
The jury agreed that Lorenzo was a persistent offender who committed two or more crimes after the age of 18, but could not agree on whether he was a multiple offender and a long-term threat to society.
The state had argued that Lorenzo was incarcerated for a significant period and blew his chance at rehabilitation by continuing to commit crimes. He was awaiting sentencing on a drug and DUI conviction when, just hours after attending drug rehabilitation class, he armed himself and killed Browne-Sanchez in an attempted robbery at a Kapiolani Boulevard bar.
If prosecutors decide not to call a new jury, Bell said, the state also could ask the judge that Lorenzo be sentenced to consecutive prison terms for robbery, attempted murder and the other crimes he committed.
The defense will oppose any enhanced sentences, including consecutive sentences, Rodby said.