LITTLE ROCK, Ark.(CBS/AP) Will a Little Rock jury deliver a death sentence to the killer of Arkansas news anchor Anne Pressly?
The jury convicted Curtis Lavelle Vance of murder, rape and other charges on Wednesday. It is now weighing whether to impose the death penalty on Vance, who police say admitted to beating the KATV anchorwoman with a wood-handled garden tool.
The attack shattered Pressly's face and sent her into a coma. She never regained consciousness and died five days after the Oct. 20, 2008 attack.
Vance, 29, of Marianna, also was convicted of residential burglary along with rape and theft of property. Prosecutors said Vance told police he went to her neighborhood looking to steal laptop computers.
Jurors deciding on his penalty could also sentence him to life in prison without the possibility of parole. If the jury cannot settle on a penalty, Pulaski County Circuit Judge Chris Piazza must impose the life sentence.
Prosecution witnesses said DNA evidence linked Vance to Pressly's death and to a separate rape case in which he has pleaded not guilty. The defense has said police duped Vance into confessing and giving officers a DNA sample to compare with evidence in the case.
Pressley was a native of Greenville, S.C., and a graduate of Rhodes College in Memphis, Tenn.
During the penalty phase that began Wednesday, Pressly's mother, Patti Cannady, said that after the death of her only child she ripped up many family photos because she didn't have anyone to give them to.
"Oh, Lord Jesus, how I wish it were me and not Anne," Cannady said.
On Thursday, Vance's mother, Jacqueline Vance Burnett, told jurors she was an abusive mother who had a number of run-ins with the law.
Burnett said she deliberately became pregnant as a teenager so she would be kicked out of her all-girls high school in Chicago. She says she started using crack cocaine after her husband became unfaithful and her sister moved into her home.
Burnett also told jurors that she would buy drugs with money her children received from Social Security after their fathers died and that she had spent time in prison for burglary, forgery and theft.
As Vance left the courthouse, family members shouted "Love ya, Lavelle!" and he said "Love you!"
Then he shouted, "It's a corrupted system!"