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Baldwin County jurors this week heard evidence against Troy R. MacDonald, a Daphne man who pleaded guilty to the 2008 rape murder of 21 year old Brianna Parish. A conviction was quickly returned Thursday, and MacDonald was sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole.After federal courts struck down the death penalty nationwide in 1972, states rewrote their laws. Executions were allowed to resume in 1976, and Alabama has since put 49 people to death. Another 203 are on death row sixth among states with the death penalty.Under new guidelines, capital trials are broken into guilt and sentencing phases.Joseph A. Colquitt, University of Alabama law professor, retired circuit judge and expert in capital litigation, said many states allow defendants to plead guilty before a judge and be sentenced without jury involvement. Some states let juries decide the sentence, Colquitt said.Texas requires prosecutors to present evidence to juries after guilty pleas only when the death penalty is still a possible punishment, according to George Flynn, a spokesman with the Harris County, Texas, District Attorney Office.Florida capital defendants enter guilty pleas before judges who then pass sentences, according to John Molchan, assistant state attorney in Escambia County, Fla.In Mississippi, if the death penalty is off the table, a judge takes the plea and sentences the defendant to life without parole without any further proceedings, according to Jan Schaefer, public information officer for the attorney general. If the death penalty is an option at the time of a guilty plea, a jury holds a sentencing trial with each side offering evidence for or against execution, she said. Alabama approach Colquitt said Alabama legislators took another approach, saying prosecutors must present at least the basic evidence proving Mens Adidas Climacool Aerate 2.0 Shoes

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´╗┐Alabama capital murder trials can continue despite guilty pleas

a reasonable doubt, and a defendant guilty plea can be used as evidence. Having the evidence on the record can prove helpful to prosecutors down the road, she said.

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the guilty party goes free.Requiring the state to present the case establishes that a crime was committed and the accused is guilty, he said. For there to be a conviction, Colquitt said, the jury would be required to return a verdict of guilty. If jurors couldn reach a unanimous verdict, there could be no conviction. If the decision was split, the judge would declare a mistrial and another jury would hear the evidence. If the jury voted unanimously Adidas Basketball Shoes Low to acquit, the defendant would go free, he said.the plea of guilty may weigh toward conviction, Colquitt said, does not dictate a conviction. Level of detail But just how detailed does the case have to be if the defendant has admitted guilt?That varies, according to Talitha Powers Bailey, director of the Capital Defense Law Clinic at the University of Alabama.The law requires proof of guilt beyond Adidas Boost Green

the case to a jury. Once guilt is established, the jury recommends a penalty and the judge makes the final sentencing decision. Defendants can waive the jury role in sentencing.Colquitt said the state approach to preserve the integrity of the system. Policy wise, we do not want who plead guilty to protect someone else, allowing an innocent person to be punished while Adidas Boost Women's Black

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