PUERTO RICO: JURY SPARES KILLER FROM DEATH PENALTY
|Alexis Candelario Santana
March 23, 2013: A Puerto Rico man previously convicted of masterminding one of the island's biggest mass shootings was spared the death penalty.
The sentencing deliberations for 41-year-old Alexis Candelario Santana ended with a hung jury, meaning he will serve life in prison. He had been found guilty earlier this month in the deaths of eight people and an 8-month-old fetus following an October 2009 bar shooting that also injured more than 20 others.
It is the fifth time a Puerto Rican jury has rejected a federal death penalty case.
Candelario raised both hands in the air upon hearing the verdict, joining thousands of people across the island who celebrated as well, noting that the U.S. territory's constitution prohibits capital punishment. Candelario, however, was being tried in federal court, which allows for the death penalty.
U.S. Attorney Rosa Emilia Rodriguez said she respected the jury's decision and added that capital punishment is not mandatory, but rather an option for juries to consider.
"This is to help Puerto Rico," she said, referring to the island's struggle with crime. "I don't have any other agenda here."
The verdict comes a day after Puerto Rico's Senate approved a proposal that aims to prohibit the U.S. government from applying the death penalty in Puerto Rico.
"The federal government, who for many years has been intent on killing a Puerto Rican to demonstrate it can do so, is morally obligated to respect the values of our nation," said Sen. Ramon Luis Nieves, the bill's co-author.
The jury deliberated nearly two days before issuing a verdict. (Sources: AP, 23/03/2013)