Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Stephens Gets Death Penalty for Killing Child

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Stephens Gets Death Penalty for Killing Child

Article excerpt

During his trial, Jason Stephens asked to be electrocuted for

"all the crimes I'd done all my life."

Yesterday, Stephens got his wish to go to the electric chair,

when a judge sentenced him to death for the murder of a

3-year-old Jacksonville boy.

Ironically, it was the one crime Stephens insisted he didn't

commit.

Another chapter in a case that began with a community grieving

over the death of a child ended yesterday when Circuit Judge

Jack Schemer sentenced Stephens, 24, to death for the June 2

murder of Robert Sparrow III.

Though he agreed with the jury's recommendation of death,

Schemer said he couldn't determine how the child died or if

Stephens intended to kill Sparrow. The kidnapped boy's body was

found in a car Stephens stole during a robbery at Robert's

father's home.

"Whether the child died of asphyxiation or hyperthermia, the

court is convinced that he suffered," Schemer said. "The

decision to take the child as a hostage was solely the decision

of the defendant."

The victim's mother, Consuelo Brown, said she was satisfied

with the sentence.

"My son didn't have a chance, so I figure why should he," Brown

said.

Stephens, who plans to appeal, made only one comment after the

sentencing, said defense attorney Refik Eler.

"Just can he see his family," Eler said.

State Attorney Harry Shorstein was pleased with the sentence.

"It's never pleasant to see anyone sentenced to death, but we

believe it was an appropriate sentence in this case," Shorstein

said.

Schemer also sentenced Stephens to life for the armed

kidnapping of Sparrow; life for four armed robberies and two

attempted armed robberies; and 15 years for burglary and

aggravated battery.

In addition to the sentences imposed yesterday, Stephens

already had been sentenced to life sentences seven times for

other crimes, including the 1996 murder of a Hillard man, the

1997 attempted murder of a Jacksonville man and robberies at a

Jacksonville business.

Stephens' co-defendant, Horace Cummings, 23, is serving a life

prison sentence. …

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