Jury starts capital murder deliberations
A Fairfax County jury began its deliberations Thursday afternoon after hearing closing arguments in the capital murder trial of Mark E. Lawlor, accused of killing Genevieve Orange in her Falls Church area apartment in September 2008.
The jury deliberated for a little more than two hours, then decided to go home for the day. Since the trial has been taking Fridays off, to allow both the jurors and Fairfax Circuit Court Judge Jonathan C. Thacher to attend to other business, the jury will now take a four-day break, with the President's Day holiday on Monday. Deliberations will resume Tuesday.
Prosecutors allege that Lawlor, 45, a leasing agent at the Prestwick Apartments in the Seven Corners area, used a key to break into Orange's studio apartment, fatally beat her in the head with a hammer, and then sexually assaulted her.
Semen was found on Orange's body and Fairfax Commonwealth's Attorney Raymond F. Morrogh said the DNA matched Lawlor. Morrogh decided in 2009 to seek the death penalty for Lawlor, who previously had served five years in prison for abducting an ex-girlfriend in Great Falls.
Lawlor did not testify at the trial.
In opening statements, Lawlor's attorneys admitted that Lawlor killed Orange, but argued that he was so high on crack cocaine and beer that he didn't have the willful intent to kill her. Defense attorney Mark J. Petrovich said the case qualified as second-degree murder.
But in the defense's closing argument, lawyer Thomas B. Walsh said the case now qualified as first-degree murder. Walsh continued the argument that Lawlor was so intoxicated he didn't have the requisite intent for capital murder.
Morrogh argued that Lawlor's actions showed that he was quite coherent, regardless of how much crack he had smoked. Morrogh pointed out that Lawlor obtained the key for Orange's apartment from the building's office; brought a hammer with him to the apartment; killed and raped Orange, then made efforts to clean up the evidence; left the building through a back door, stained with Orange's blood, rather than go through the lobby; disposed of the hammer and his bloody clothes; and returned the key to Orange's apartment.
"This crime, far more than most," Morrogh said, "was very well planned out."
If the jury convicts Lawlor of capital murder or first-degree murder, a sentencing phase will begin soon after. A conviction of capital murder would present the jury with a choice of a death sentence or life without parole. A first-degree conviction would give the jury a range from 20 years to life in prison.
| February 17, 2011; 5:50 PM ET
Categories: Fairfax, From the Courthouse, Homicide, Tom Jackman, Updates
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