A Williamson County jury has sentenced a man convicted of capital murder to life without parole, instead of death. The rejection of a death sentence is part of a nationwide decline in death sentences, as well as a major decline in Texas. In 2011, only 8 people were sentenced to death in Texas. In the late 1990’s almost 40 people were sentenced to death each year. More and more people serving on juries are now rejecting death sentences and choosing life without parole. One reason why death sentences are in decline is that people who serve on juries are members of the public who have read about all the problems in the death penalty system.
Bobby Burks Jr. was convicted last week of the robbery and fatal shooting of 18-year-old Raul Vizueth Torres, whom he ambushed on a Williamson County road in April 2010.
To impose the death penalty, the jury had to decide that Burks poses a future danger to society and that there are no mitigating circumstances in his case. One of the prosecutors, Jane Starnes, said this morning in closing arguments that Burks’ criminal history showed he would be a future threat.