Because this is a different kind of trial. It seldom happens.
The jurors, rather than considering whether a man is guilty or innocent of a crime, will instead deliberate what punishment he deserves for committing it.
The background: Delonde Pleasant pleaded guilty in 2003 when prosecutors reduced the murder charge against him to manslaughter.
The standard sentence for manslaughter ranges between six and eight years. But the original judge threw the book at Pleasant and sentenced him to 25 years in prison, a sentence an appellate court overturned two years ago. The appellate court ruled a jury must deliberate whether circumstances merit a sentence beyond the standard.
And that’s where we are today.
The defense hopes to convince jurors that Pleasant, who has spent nine years in prison, has served long enough. Prosecutors say they’re confident jurors will send Pleasant back to prison for another sixteen years when they hear the details of how Pleasant brutally, cruelly, and mercilessly pummeled Juanita Montelongo to death in a drunken rage while their toddler son heard it all in the adjacent room.
The trial is expected to last through next week. I’ll be there, and I’ll let you know what happens.