June 30, 2009
Jury set to recommend sentence for convicted killer
By Marty Roney
An Elmore County jury is currently deliberating whether to recommend the death penalty or life without the possibility of parole for convicted killer Calvin McMillan.
Closing arguments in the penalty phase of McMillan’s capital murder trial ended at 10 a.m. today, and the jury began deliberating about 10:20 a.m.
The state is seeking a death penalty recommendation from the jury, with the defense asking for the only other available recommendation of life in prison without the possibility of parole.
McMillan, 20, of Opelika was convicted Friday of two counts of capital murder in the shooting death of James Bryan Martin, 23, a Millbrook father of two.
Martin was gunned down the night of Aug. 29, 2007, in the Millbrook Wal-Mart parking lot. Prosecutors proved that McMillan killed Martin during the theft of Martin’s 2004 Ford F-150 pickup.
“Calvin McMillan lay in wait for 40 minutes for a defenseless victim in a public parking lot,” said James Houts, chief assistant district attorney, in his closing arguments. “Bryan Martin was there to buy diapers and baby wipes. Calvin McMillan valued a car more than a human life. He dumped James Bryan Martin in the parking lot without blinking an eye.”
The prosecutor seemed to look ahead to the defense’s closing. In the evidentiary portion on the penalty phase, the defense presented evidence that McMillan was a victim of physical, psychological and sexual abuse throughout his youth and teenage years.
“Calvin McMillan is not deprived. He’s depraved,” Houts told the jury.
Defense attorney Kenny James told the jury that they must consider McMillan’s background.
“Calvin McMillan sits there guilty of two counts of capital murder because of the way he was raised,” James said, as he turned to point to his client. “Calvin McMillan chose to get a gun and chose to steal a car, but you are the result of your childhood.”
James acknowledged that McMillan is responsible for Martin’s death. “This is about the appropriate sentence given the background Calvin grew up in,” James said. “Calvin is not an animal. He is a human being. You can lock him in a cage like he is an animal for the rest of his life. That’s what needs to be done.”
The jury will give its recommended sentence to Circuit Court Judge John Bush, who can either accept or override the recommendation.