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Jury Begins Deliberating In Gary Sampson Death Penalty Trial

BOSTON (CBS/AP) -- A jury in Boston Federal Court began deliberating over the fate of admitted killer Gary Sampson Thursday.

Sampson, 57, was condemned to die in 2003 for killing Jonathan Rizzo, 19, and Philip McCloskey, 69. But that decision was later overturned by a judge who granted him a new sentencing trial in 2011 after finding that one of the jurors at his first trial had lied about her background.

Sampson received a separate life sentence for killing a third man, Robert "Eli" Whitney, in New Hampshire.

Philip McCloskey Jonathan Rizzo Robert Whitney gary sampson
Philip McCloskey (left), Jonathan Rizzo (middle) and Robert Whitney (right)

Prosecutors said Sampson tricked the carjack victims into thinking he would spare their lives, but then stabbed them more than a dozen times, slit their throats and left them to die in the woods.

On Wednesday, jurors were shown gruesome photos of Sampson's victims while a prosecutor described how the defendant stabbed them over and over while they begged for their lives.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Zachary Hafer told them Sampson deserved the death penalty for the "cruel, cruel murders," but Michael Burt, a lawyer for Sampson, asked jurors to spare his client's life, saying he took responsibility by confessing and pleading guilty.

Gary Lee Sampson
Gary Lee Sampson. (WBZ-TV file photo)

Sampson's lawyers asked the jury to consider 115 mitigating factors they say support a life sentence rather than the death penalty, including brain damage they say he suffered during a troubled childhood.

The jury began deliberations around 11:45 a.m. Thursday. The jury is comprised of five women and seven men.

(TM and © Copyright 2017 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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