Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Jury Recommends Life in Brutal Killing of Woman; Formal Sentencing of Lance Kirkpatrick Set for May 15

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Jury Recommends Life in Brutal Killing of Woman; Formal Sentencing of Lance Kirkpatrick Set for May 15

Article excerpt

Byline: Larry Hannan

Lance Eugene Kirkpatrick showed no mercy to Kim Dorsey when he raped her, beat her with a pool cue and then slit her throat. But on Friday the Jacksonville jury that convicted Kirkpatrick of murder chose to let him live out his natural life rather than cut it short.

The jury told Circuit Judge Mark Hulsey that Kirkpatrick should be sentenced to life without the possibility of parole, and not be sent to Death Row. It was unclear if the jury's recommendation was unanimous or if a minority of the jurors wanted him to get death.

The final decision on whether Kirkpatrick lives or dies technically rests with Hulsey. But every person now on Death Row from the Jacksonville area arrived there because of a majority or unanimous jury recommendation of death. Hulsey set May 15 as the date when Kirkpatrick will officially be sentenced.

At one point judges did occasionally overrule juries that recommended life. But it's widely believed that no death sentence that overruled a jury recommendation would survive an appeal since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2002 that a jury must find enough aggravating factors necessary to impose the death penalty.

Prosecutors said Kirkpatrick, 33, broke into the home of Derrick and Kim Dorsey to steal something that would help him pay off a drug debt. Kirkpatrick worked for Derrick Dorsey's construction company and had previously lived with the couple and knew they kept a key under a statue on their front porch.

Derrick Dorsey, who is also a firefighter, was at work, but Kim Dorsey, 38, was at home. Kirkpatrick admitted to killing her during the trial, although he claimed it was an accident.

Defense attorney Julie Schlax told jurors Kirkpatrick would be punished by spending the rest of his life in prison with no chance of ever getting out, and that was a just punishment for Dorsey's death.

Schlax argued that Kirkpatrick could still contribute something to society in prison, and asked jurors to focus on the totality of his life, not just the crime they'd convicted him of on Wednesday.

Kirkpatrick has a loving relationship with his 12-year-old son, served in the Army, had never been to prison before this and was a hard and conscientious worker and friend, Schlax said. …

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