Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Jurors Consider Death for Woman's Killer

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Jurors Consider Death for Woman's Killer

Article excerpt

Prosecutor George B. McElroy had three words of advice for the jury deciding the fate of a man convicted of pushing a woman from a railroad trestle: "Give him death."

Jurors in Jefferson County Circuit Court in Hillsboro deliberated more than six hours Friday on whether Christopher Simmons, 18, should be sentenced to death or to life in prison.

Simmons was convicted Thursday of killing Shirley Ann Crook. She drowned after she was pushed into the Meramec River last September.

In his closing arguments in the trial's penalty phase, McElroy told the jurors they needed to send a message.

"The killing has got to stop," he said. "The fear has got to end. The violence has got to stop."

Defense attorney Michael Burton asked for mercy for Simmons.

"Your decision should not be based on emotion but on facts," Burton said. "On the other hand, if you consider any emotion, consider mercy and compassion."

Simmons and a friend, Charles Benjamin, 16, both of the Fenton area, were accused of breaking into the Crooks' home near Fenton on Sept. …

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