The trial of Nathan LeForce came to an end late Thursday night when the jury was unable to reach a unanimous verdict of the punishment phase of the trial. The decision then fell to District Judge Phillip Corley who sentenced LeForce to life in prison without parole with formal sentencing on Sept. 20 at 3 p.m.
The jury deliberated for five hours and forty minutes having received the case at 3:38 p.m. The jury sent a note to the judge about two hours in asking a question about the verdict having to be unanimous. The jury then returned to open court at 7:45 p.m. and told the judge they were deadlocked at 10-2 on the death penalty. Judge Corley sent them back for more deliberations to decide between life in prison and life without parole. The jury returned to the courtroom around 9:15 p.m. and reported they were hopelessly deadlocked on assessing punishment and further deliberations would be fruitless. Judge Corley dismissed the jury and thanked them for their service.
The trial heard more than 80 hours of testimony over 12 days and took four weeks to complete. It was a long day for everyone in the courtroom Thursday. After one rebuttal witness, Judge Corley then gave the jury their instructions listing the three aggravators for the death penalty and the 30 mitigators for the defense.
Assistant District Attorney Kevin Etherington gave his closing statement with a very to-the-point 19-minute presentation highlighting all three aggravators that qualified for the death penalty. Lead defense attorney Gretchen Moseley then gave a two hour and forty minute presentation to the jury on why LeForce should not get the death penalty. Laura Thomas wrapped it up for the prosecution and despite numerous interruptions from Moseley and the defense team, got her points in on LeForce being a continuing threat to the community and in an emotional plea just asked the jury to consider all the evidence.
Afterwards, David Wade’s cousin, Jaime Alexander, met with the media with a prepared statement. Excerpts from that statement: “This was always about David. The sentence was not what we expected. We are disappointed and to be honest we are angry. We do not understand how the vicious and intentional murder of a law enforcement officer does not warrant the death penalty. To some people not to give the death penalty is a valid choice. We respect those who are opposed to it, but we have always held firm that there are crimes that are so egregious in nature that warrant no less. We felt that was the situation in this case. However, we respect the fact that the jury has spoken, and we thank them for their service. To the district attorney’s office, we offer our sincere gratitude. You worked diligently over the last two years to bring David’s killer to a court of law. We are grateful for the determination you showed in the courtroom. To the Logan County Sheriff’s office, we thank you for your unending support, David was so proud to be one of you. The undeniable truth is that David’s death was cruel and totally unnecessary. He was murdered by an individual acting out of hatred. David was targeted because he was law enforcement office and no other reason.”
Logan County Sheriff Damon Devereaux commented, “It is sort of what we expected. The murder of law enforcement officers is becoming more and more prevalent. It is a sad day. David died doing what he loved. The prosecution team worked their tails off and they had a phenomenal case and did an outstanding job representing the judicial system and David Wade. They fought tooth and nail for the death penalty. We will never get over this.”
Logan County District Attorney Laura Thomas said, “It is the jury’s job and we must respect their decision. However, we must make note of the victim’s rights as they were no were near respected. Victim statements were restricted, limited, redacted and were a mere billet of what they had to say. The message that the community sends is that the safety of a law enforcement officer and the value placed on their life is less than that of a person that murders them.”
Lead defense Attorney Gretchen Moseley said, “We are grateful for the mercy and we pray for the healing of the Wade family and his fellow officers. We really believe Nathan will try to redeem himself.”
Judge Phillip Corley has set September 20 as formal sentencing on all three charges. The prosecution is expected to introduce more victim impact statements in that hearing.