Reporting Derek Valcourt
BEL AIR, Md. (WJZ)—Should he live or die? A jury is still debating whether a Baltimore County man should receive the death penalty after he was convicted of killing a gas station owner.
Derek Valcourt has the latest developments from court in Bel Air, where the case was moved because of high publicity.
Defense attorneys called in psychologists and prison experts as they pleaded for mercy from the jury.
Walter Bishop fired the shots that killed Hess gas station owner Ray Porter. Bishop was promised $9,000 for the murder by the victim’s wife, Carla Porter. There was no doubt in the jury’s mind. They heard it from his own mouth in a recorded confession.
“He turned the corner and he turned his head and I just went like this,” Bishop said in the confession, while demonstrating.
His conviction last week now leaves the jury to decide whether he should be put to death. It’s a punishment he is eligible for under a new Maryland law. It allows the death penalty in cases where there is a recorded confession.
Monday, defense attorneys called prison expert Dr. Robert Johnson to testify about research showing the effects of a sentence of life in prison without parole.
“Life without parole and the death penalty are both death sentences,” said Johnson, American University. “I call life without parole death by incarceration because you’re sentencing the person to die in prison in one case by the lethal injection chamber and in the other case, by either natural causes or violence. But they both amount to death sentences.”
Several were also called to testify about Bishop’s troubled childhood, saying it resulted in a border line personality disorder, depression and addiction to drugs and alcohol.
Defense attorneys will continue to try to pull at the heartstrings of jurors. They will remind the jury that Bishop has five young daughters, and they will call a number of his family members to testify about how much he is loved. Testimony in this sentencing phase of the trial resumes Tuesday.
Prosecutors will also seek the death penalty for the victim’s wife Carla Porter when her trial begins in the spring.