THE COURT: Alright, court'll be in session. And ladies and gentlemen, again I seem to have to be thanking you for your patience. Uh, that thirty minutes I indicated to ya turned out to be a little better than an hour -- more than that. Uh, and I do appreciate your indulgence on our delays. I might explain to you that the delay was absolutely necessary in order to allow the attorneys an opportunity to discuss, uh, whether or not they needed to produce additional testimony or evidence. Uh, which they would have been entitled to. However, I'm informed, am I correct gentlemen that each of you just choose to do a brief additional argument and proceed? Is that correct?
MULTIPLE VOICES: Yes, your Honor.
THE COURT: And you've consulted with the family members, with your clients and with anybody that might be appropriate at this time, have each of you done that?
MULTIPLE VOICES: Yes, your Honor.
THE COURT: And you're satisfied that arguments are all that's necessary?
MULTIPLE VOICES: Yes, your Honor.
THE COURT: Alright, ladies and gentlemen, you have found Jessie Lloyd Misskelley Jr. guilty of first-degree murder in the death of Michael Moore, and found him guilty in the -- of second-degree murder in the death of Stevie Branch and Chris Byers. It's now necessary that you listen to additional arguments of the attorneys, which I hope are confined to about fifteen minutes a side. Uh, and then again retire and fix and im -- impose -- fix the sentences for each of these offenses.
And you are instructed that the range of punishment for first-degree murder is a term of not less than ten years nor more than forty years or life, in the Arkansas Department of Corrections. You're further instructed that the range of punishment for second-degree murder is a term of not less than five years, nor more than twenty years in the Arkansas Department of Corrections or a fine not exceeding fifteen thousand dollars, or both a term of not less than five nor more than twenty years in the Arkansas Department of Corrections and a fine not exceeding fifteen thousand dollars.
After the lawyers do their additional arguments, then I will read the verdict forms that you will be asked to consider and complete. Alright gentlemen, you may -- how much time do y'all want? Fifteen minutes cutting you too close?
CROW: No, your Honor.
THE COURT: Do you wanna split -- you gonna split your arguments?
DAVIS: Yes, your Honor.
THE COURT: Okay.
Ladies and gentlemen, and I'm saying this with all sincerity, I know what a difficult decision y'all had to make. This case is very emotionally draining for anybody who is a party to it - whether it's the victims' families, whether it's the jurors, whether it's the court reporter. Anybody who has to view these photographs, who has to hear this testimony, it is a gut-wrenching experience. And we all the time hear people criticize the jobs that jurors do, but I want to tell you that we thank you for being willing and able to go through this process and to do your civic duty in serving on a jury, listening to the evidence, and rendering a decision consistent with what the law required.
Now, you have to determine what is appropriate punishment within the range allowed by the law to fit the crime that you found that this defendant committed. In the first count, you will have the option on first-degree murder for the death of Michael Moore, the ranges you will be given a verdict form that shows ten to forty years or life. And you can fill that form in with anything from ten to forty years or you can put life in prison as the appropriate punishment for what this defendant did. When you make that determination, and you determine what is appropriate for the crime he's committed, I would just ask that you think back again -- and I know it's hard, but in fitting the punishment to the crime -- you have found that he purposely took the life, he or an accomplice, took the life of an eight-year-old boy. That, and remember the evidence was, that the beatings had already started. Damien had already started to hit the one boy when Michael Moore took off, and but for the actions of that defendant who sits right there, Michael Moore would be alive today. And he brought him back to his ultimate death. The death of an eight-year-old boy.
And I put to you that appropriate punishment for someone who does that, who takes the life on an innocent eight-year-old, under the circumstances that we know by the physical evidence what happened to him, that that merits a life sentence. I can't think of a case that could be more appropriate to give the maximum sentence, than the circumstances surrounding this.
The other two charges, which are Class B felonies, that you found the defendant guilty of second-degree murder, carry a five to twenty year sentences, anywhere within that range, and there's also an option of a fine. Frankly, in this case, with the taking of two lives, I don't think a fine is even an appropriate consideration, but that's, that's up to you. In regard to those two boys, just remember, in finding this defendant guilty, you had to determine that he went out there with the intent to inflict serious physical injury on those two boys. If he acted, he or an accomplice acted with that intent -- and think back as to what injuries those individuals suffered.
And I know it's, it's, it's something that as soon as you leave this courtroom, you'll want to shut out of your memory as much as possible for the rest of your life and I do too. But when determining what is appropriate punishment within that range of five to twenty years, think for a little bit about the agony and the torture that those boys went through that afternoon. And that man right there -- and ladies and gentlemen, he's a man, he's eighteen years old -- you found that he did it and somebody that put those three little boys through what he was involved in, twenty years is something that is clearly appropriate.
Now I normally don't get up here and say 'if the range is this, I think you should do that,' I leave that to the jury's discretion. But in this case, I, I sincerely believe that what happened to those three little boys merits the maximum punishment you can give out on all three offenses. And I ask you please to look back over that evidence and think hard, think long, and do what's right and give a punishment that fits this crime -- that fits the three crimes -- and give this defendant maximum sentences on all three counts.
In asking that, I do that because not only what happened to the children, but what happened to their families. And they've been here, and you've had a chance to look at them, and you've seen them in the front row, and I don't think it's inappropriate to say when you're determining what is the punishment to think about what the effect has been not only in the taking of those three lives, but what impact it's had on the mothers, the fathers, and the other family members of those three boys.
And when you think about those things and you look at the evidence, I think it will be a clear and easy decision that the maximum punishment, although it's something that's a heavy responsibility to deal out, particularly to somebody that's eighteen years old, I think it's clearly appropriate and it's something that you can feel that you've done something right in regard to having the courage to give out that type of punishment for this type of crime. So that people, who see what the punishment is in this case, can say that that fits what this defendant did.
Thank you very much.
THE COURT: Are y'all gonna split or you gonna do it all?
CROW: Do it all, your Honor.
THE COURT: Alright.