BEL AIR, Md. (WJZ)– His life is in a jury’s hands. A Baltimore County man could be sentenced to die after he’s convicted in a murder-for-hire plot.
The case was moved to the Harford County courthouse because of publicity.
Weijia Jiang has more on the important decision the jury made Thursday.
It took the jury the entire day to decide if Walter Bishop Jr. is even eligible to receive the death penalty. They decided he is, so now his life lies in their hands.
The same jury that convicted Walter Bishop Jr. of first-degree murder is now deciding if he’ll live or die.
“He has five children,” Kenton Westphall, Bishop’s stepfather, said. “I know he loves his children because he talks about his boys all the time and he always took care of his girls.”
Bishop was found guilty of killing William Ray Porter, who in March 2010 was gunned down at a Towson gas station he owned with his wife, Karla Porter. She is the accused mastermind of a murder-for-hire plot. Bishop said she promised him $9,000 for the hit.
It was a key piece of evidence that likely convinced the jurors– Bishop’s own confession on tape in which he laid out the shooting and how he prepared by buying gloves at a convenience store.
“I walked in. I aimed toward his face. I just closed my eyes and pulled the trigger,” Bishop said during his confession that was videotaped.
Under a new state law, a videotaped confession makes a suspect eligible to receive the death penalty, but only if he gives the confession voluntarily. Defense attorneys are arguing Bishop was misled in the interrogation room, and that he only talked about what happened because detectives baited him– not because he chose to.
They also said Bishop had no idea he was being recorded and he wouldn’t have talked if he did.
The prosecutors fired back saying police are not obligated to disclose any cameras. Late Thursday, a jury agreed and determined Bishop is eligible for capital punishment. Now, they have to decide whether he deserves it.
“I don’t want to see him get the death penalty,” Bishop’s great-aunt Barbara Raines said. “He’s my nephew and it just would kill a lot of people.”
Defense attorneys asked the judge for an off Friday so they can have even more time to prepare and plead for their client’s life. The judge said no, so the jury will be back in court Friday morning to decide Bishop’s fate.
If Bishop does not receive the death penalty, he will be sentenced to life in prison either with or without parole.