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Ronnie Lee Kimble 

                                                  

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Closing Argument for the Defendant, by Mr. Lloyd


 

THE COURT: You may stand and stretch a moment if you'd like.

Mr. Lloyd, do you need more than 30 minutes? Are you going to have -‑

MR. LLOYD: Your Honor, I will try to limit myself to 30 minutes.

THE COURT: I don't mind you going over. If it was going to go over long, we would go ahead and take lunch.

MR. LLOYD: No, sir. I don't think it will go over long. I did want to go and address the jury before lunch.

You have set before you this day life or death. A blessing or a cursing. Therefore, choose life.

That simple verse from Deuteronomy proclaims an affirmation of life and therefore speaks to us all, Protestant and Catholic, Jew and Gentile, Buddhist, Moslem, and agnostic. And it tells of forgiveness for


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Ronnie Kimble. Not revenge. Redemption and not retribution. Reconciliation and not retaliation. And finally, it speaks for mercy for Ronnie Kimble.

Now, the role of weighing and deciding and finally judging this case does not rest on that table, does not rest on the defense table, and it does not rest on the bench. It rests in your heart and in yours and in yours. It rests with each of you individually and collectively, because I tell you that unless your verdict is unanimous, the death penalty cannot be imposed against Ronnie Kimble. And unless each and every one of you agree individually that the death penalty is the appropriate punishment in this case, the death sentence cannot be imposed and Ronnie will not be executed.

So it is an individual decision. And it cannot be based on these gruesome and terrible photographs we have seen. It cannot be based on the terrible wound that fell Patricia. And the fiery burning after that. You cannot be blinded by your natural revulsion of what Ronnie Kimble did to her. But you must look beyond what we have shown you in this courtroom and picture what we could not show you.

We don't have gruesome, gut wrenching
photographs that the State has shown you in this case.


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We have no pictures, no photographs of the other side of Ronnie Kimble. The good and positive side. Those happier days when Ronnie and his wife-to-be were young, and they were still sweethearts, and they were in the backyard playing ball with Kim's father who was later to become Ronnie's father-in-law. We don't have pictures of those happier days when Ronnie was teaching Sunday school.

We accept your verdict. We know that you labored long and hard. We know it was not easy. But remember this: If you give Ronnie Kimble the death penalty, that decision is final and irrevocable. And his death is final and irrevocable. There will be no time to reconsider. No time to say I was wrong. It is final and forever. And you must be sure. And from this point on, I will speak to you as though his guilt were fact, because I accept your decision, as I must. But once again, it is you who must be sure, who must be certain there was no mistake.

And again, we have no pictures to show you of those happier days of Ronnie that our witnesses came in to court and spoke about so briefly, so plainly, so simply sometimes. And we can present only a shadow, a dim projection of what Ronnie's life was really like through this pale, dry testimony from the witness stand.

 


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Testimony of these good people who knew Ronnie. The testimony of these good people who talked about that other side of Ronnie. Testimony of Beverly Wharf who talked about a son she never had. Who talked about that other Ronnie that went to dinner with her in his marine uniform. The testimony of Helen Williams who told you about her relationship with Ronnie and what a striking contrast to the Ronnie that his deeds that had been shown in this courtroom present. But we have no pictures to show you to counteract that. All we have is that plain, simple testimony you heard from this witness stand here.

Now, are we to kill just to show that killing is wrong, because that is precisely what the State asks of you, and just as surely the answer must be no. It is self-evident that hatred only breeds hatred. Violence only begets violence. And that cruelty only brings more cruelty. And I am asking you for Ronnie Kimble what that twisted side of him would not let his other side give Patricia. She had a right to live. There is no doubt of that. But there is nothing that you can do, including killing Ronnie Kimble, that would bring her back.

These terrible pictures of her charred remains will pain her family for ages and ages. And we can only


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hope that time with its soothing balm will somehow cleanse those wounds, somehow heal that pain, and that goodness and kindness will come in and help that family. If killing Ronnie would heal those wounds, if killing Ronnie would bring her back, if killing Ronnie would make any difference at all to the pain and suffering of Patricia's family, then your moral task would be far easier. But that is not the case.

You have the power to spare Ronnie's life. It is your decision. And if any one of you says no, then his life will be spared. For your decision must be unanimous. And again, we are talking about a terribly real decision, a decision of life and death. And we are talking about a real person. We're not talking about someone on TV or someone in the newspaper. We're talking about that young man right there. And we're talking about each of you. You and he are the players on this final stage.

And I ask you to look deep into those eyes. Are you prepared to say that there is no hope, there is no chance of redemption, that there is no humanity?

You have found Ronnie Kimble guilty of first-degree murder and guilty of murder by premeditation and deliberation. But there is no other death that could occur with more premeditation and


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deliberation -‑

MR. PANOSH: We object.

THE COURT: Sustained.

MR. LLOYD: -- than that which the State asks you --

MR. PANOSH: We object.

THE COURT: Disregard that, members of the jury.

MR. LLOYD: -- to impose.

Life in prison for every day of your waking life upon this earth is punishment almost as bad as the gas chamber. Almost.

Now, let me talk to you for just a moment about what your real job is here. It is not, as the prosecution would have you believe, that justice and society demands that you impose the death penalty. If that were so, there would be no reason for you to be sitting here weighing and deciding this case. If that were so, every time we had a horrible murder like this, the defendant was found guilty of first-degree murder, then there would be nothing left for you to do. Nothing left to weigh or to consider. And the officers would just take him off and execute him. But that is not what the law requires.

Each of you told us in jury selection that you would -- you could and would consider both life


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imprisonment and the death penalty in this case. And each of you, although you told me that you felt that the death penalty was appropriate in some cases, you said that if the State had not proved to you beyond a reasonable doubt that the death penalty was the appropriate punishment in this case, then you would come back into this courtroom and announce your decision for life imprisonment. And I'd argue to you that what the law says to you in this case is not easy. The path that the prosecutor would have you take is one of vengeance and retribution.

MR. PANOSH: Object.

THE COURT: Sustained. Disregard that, members of the jury.

MR. LLOYD: The path that we urge you to follow is the path of the law and it leads directly to life imprisonment.

Now, let me talk to you just a moment about what the law says about how you're to decide this issue of life and death. And the instructions, though they're long, I think after you've dissected them, you'll see that they're relatively simple. And obviously, as we've gone over, we will present to you mitigating circumstances. And I want to read to you what the Judge, Judge Cornelius, is going to instruct you on as


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the definition of mitigating circumstances. Mr. Panosh earlier read to you part of that instruction. I am going to read it all to you.

A mitigating circumstance is a fact or group of facts which do not constitute justification or excuse for a killing -- the mitigating circumstances that we submit to you are not a justification, are not an excuse -- or reduce it to a lesser degree of crime than first-degree murder, but which may be considered as extenuating or reducing the moral culpability of killing -- of the killing or making it less deserving of the extreme punishment -- of extreme punishment than other first-degree murders.

Our law identifies several possible mitigating circumstances. However, in considering Issue Two, it would be your duty to consider as a mitigating circumstance any aspect of the defendant's character or record or any other factor that the defendant contends is a basis for a sentence of less than death, and any other circumstance or circumstances arising from the evidence which you deem to have mitigating value.                                                                                                       -

Do we contend to you because of the 14-odd mitigating circumstances that we have submitted on that sheet of paper that those justify what Ronnie -- what you have found Ronnie Kimble guilty of doing? No. But


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as the law says, these are things, these are part of his character that you should consider before imposing this most extreme of punishments.

Now, we, of course, have asked you to find these mitigating circumstances. The State has asked you to find the two aggravating circumstances that Mr. Panosh has talked about. And I won't go into a great deal of detail about that. Mr. Panosh has obviously covered the aggravating circumstances and Mr. Hatfield has covered -- talked to you some about the aggravating circumstances and talked to you some about our mitigating circumstances. But let me point out just a couple of differences in how you look at the mitigating and aggravating circumstances.

First of all, the big difference, the critical difference between aggravating circumstances, which the State submits, and our mitigating circumstances is that you must find the existence of aggravating circumstances unanimously. That is, that all 12 of you must agree before you can find the existence of an aggravating circumstance. So that if one does not agree and it is not unanimous, then you would not find that aggravating circumstance.

Now, the mitigating circumstances, on the other hand, can be found by any one of you. And they are not


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limited to those circumstances that we have submitted on the sheet. And that is another primary difference. The aggravating circumstances, the only two that you can consider in this Court by law, are the two that were submitted to you and the two that Mr. Hatfield and Mr. Panosh have already talked to you about. But the mitigating circumstances are anything that you find from the evidence that you deem to have mitigating value. That is, make this case less deserving of the death penalty. And it doesn't make any difference whether we have submitted it on the sheet and the Judge reads it to you. If you remember it from the evidence, and one of you, a single one of you, decides that it has mitigating value, then the last mitigating factor is what we commonly call the catch-all. And you will be instructed on that by Judge Cornelius. And it essentially says, as I have just outlined to you, that it is anything from the -- arising from the evidence that you deem to have mitigating value. That any one of you deems to have mitigating value. So if one of you finds it and you discuss it with the others and they say well, we don't_ see that that has mitigating value but you feel that it does, that should weigh in your decision as to whether or not you ultimately impose the death penalty on this case.


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Now, this may seem like a small distinction, but the aggravating factors, by law, must be found not only unanimously but they must be found beyond a reasonable doubt. And that is the standard you apply. The mitigating factors, on the other hand, they arise from the evidence, and one individual juror alone must be satisfied of their existence and that it has mitigating value. And that's the difference. There is a different standard here. Mitigating values that any one of you applies or just to your satisfaction or by the preponderance of the evidence.

Now, as Mr. Panosh has already talked to you about the charge, I'll skip over the first two issues. They require that you apply the law as I've just talked about and determine whether or not there are aggravating factors and whether or not there are mitigating factors.

Then you will come to Issue Number Three. And it reads: Do you unanimously find beyond a reasonable doubt that the mitigating circumstances found by any one of you are insufficient to outweigh the aggravating circumstances found by you?

Now, that is a long legalistic way of saying in essence that you weigh the aggravating and mitigating circumstances. But once again, I want to point out to you that you must find -- you must answer that issue


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that the mitigating circumstances are insufficient to outweigh the aggravating circumstances unanimously. If you cannot decide that unanimously, you can't move from Issue Three to Issue Four.

Now, Issue Four, you will be asked do you unanimously find -- find beyond a reasonable doubt that the aggravating circumstances are sufficiently substantial to call for the imposition of the death penalty when considered with the mitigating circumstances?

Again, before you can answer this question, you must find it unanimously. That is, that you all must agree before you can mark this issue and determine the death penalty that in fact the aggravating circumstances are sufficiently substantial to call for the death penalty when considered together with the mitigating circumstances. So that you must find that unanimously. If you do not find it unanimously, you cannot mark that issue and you cannot make that final recommendation of death. And if you are not convinced beyond a reasonable doubt of that issue, then you would mark that issue no, - and it would be your duty at that point to enter a sentence of life imprisonment.

Now, this is obviously a balancing formula. This whole process. And you are the sole judges in


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determining the weight to give each factor, be it mitigating or be it aggravating. We've already talked some about that. But let's talk about the first mitigating factor that you will be submitted. That is, that Ronnie has no significant history of criminal activity. And you will be required to find that mitigating factor, because in fact that -- a legal determination has been made on that.

And let me point out one other thing about that particular factor. That is a statutory mitigating factor. And our legislature has determined that that factor has mitigating value. Our legislature determined that that was important. That that was the kind of thing that set off one case from another case that was deserving of the death penalty.

Now, the other mitigating factor that I'd like to talk to you about, and I'll be brief about it, because Mr. Hatfield has talked to you very eloquently about it, that is, basically that Ronnie was acting under the domination of Ted -- his brother Ted. And the fact of the matter is, ladies and gentlemen, this is part and parcel of the State's entire presentation to you. And if you think about the testimony of the witnesses that the State presented in this case -­Patrick Pardee, Rob Nichols, and then even Rodney


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Woodberry -- the underlying theme there was that Ted was very dominating, that he was very intimidating, that there was this fear factor, and that he got those people to do what he wanted them to do because of that ability to dominate and to intimidate. And the State can't get away from that, because that is one of the underlying themes of their whole presentation to you in the guilt phase.

And think about how Ronnie's own father told you about the relationship between the two of them. That it went all the way back to when they were young. That Ronnie was -- that Ted was two years old, that he was bigger, he was physically more dominating. But more than that, he was mentally and emotionally more dominating.

Now, I won't go into the individual mitigating factors, Mr. Hatfield has touched on that, and you will be given those that we have submitted. I would like to stress to you again that the final mitigating factor, the catch-all mitigating factor, is that you are empowered and indeed it is your duty to go back and look at all the evidence and decide from that evidence anything that you deem to have mitigating value. It doesn't have to be something that we submitted. It doesn't have to be something that the legislature


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thought of. But anything that you deem to have mitigating value. And if you deem it, it is a mitigating factor.

And I submit to you that -- and you're not required to list those in form. You will get a verdict sheet and it will have -- you will have issues and answers. And these go through all the mitigating factors that we have submitted. And then the last one: Any other circumstance or circumstances arising from the evidence which one or more of you deem to have mitigating value. And then you just make a check on that. You don't have to be unanimous about it. You don't have to list all of those. But I encourage you to go back in the evidence and look at that and think about that and share that with the other jurors. But regardless of what they think about it, if it has mitigating value, then you keep it in your mind and you weigh it in your deliberations.

Now, the fact of the matter is that in this weighing process, each of you must delve deeply in your hearts and souls to determine what weight to give these . factors. And each of you must balance those individually in your hearts and minds, because this decision, for good or ill, will lie with you for the rest of your lives. And if you choose death, it is


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final and absolute. It cannot be taken back. It is a decision that allows no redemption, no repentance for Ronnie Kimble or for you.

MR. PANOSH: We object to that.

THE COURT: Sustained. Disregard it, members of the jury.

MR. LLOYD: You cannot say I am sorry a year from now or two years from now, or ten years from now. And through us, you have heard Ronnie Kimble's plea. Sadly, it will not bring Patricia back. Will you put yourself on his level?

MR. PANOSH: Objection.

THE COURT: Sustained. Disregard that, members of the jury.

MR. LLOYD: Kill him now and then decide years later that you were sorry.

MR. PANOSH: Objection.

THE COURT: Sustained. Disregard it, members of the jury.

MR. LLOYD: When it is too late.

There was a time, and you have heard it from the evidence in this trial, when Ronnie Kimble showed remorse for what he had done when he spoke to Mitch Whidden. When he talked to Mitch Whidden of suicide. Spare his life. Grant him the mercy that his bent and


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twisted side would not let his other side give to Patricia on that day back in October three years ago.

We cannot breathe life into Patricia. But just as surely, killing Ronnie won't bring her back. And killing him won't break the circle of violence. Killing him won't break the circle of grief. And I ask you to show love and redemption where none was shown before on that day some three years ago.

I do not argue philosophically with you against the death penalty. You've all said that you can consider it. But I do argue against it in this case. know that this is a horrible crime. And I know that you want to punish Ronnie Kimble. And I know that you want to protect society. But life imprisonment is a terrible punishment. Think of the deprivation. Separated from any friends; unable to enjoy the smallest pleasures that we all take for granted; never to take a walk on a brisk fall day; never to work or play or even to do those simple things; to walk down to the end of the driveway and get the morning paper. No chance to become a father; no chance to hold your baby in your arms; never to steal quietly upstairs and to watch her gentle sleep, and tuck her in, and breathe a kiss upon her brow.

Life imprisonment is not letting Ronnie Kimble off for the crime you found him guilty of. It is a


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substantial penalty. For if you grant him life, death will ultimately come to him as it will to all of us, and he will die a lonely man. His family dead; away from any friends that might care for him; no home or heart; no loved ones. Is that not punishment enough?

Show him mercy. But remember that here mercy is hard. Let your decision be an affirmation of life; an affirmation of courage and bravery. And when you leave this courthouse for the final time, I want you to be able to hold your heads high and proclaim that I was brave. Today I had a chance to kill.

MR. PANOSH: We object.

THE COURT: Sustained.

MR. LLOYD: But instead I spared a life.

MR. PANOSH: We'd ask that be stricken.

THE COURT: Disregard that, members of the jury.

MR. LLOYD: I ask you to judge a fellow human being, not in coldness or in hardness of heart, but by taking into account all you know of human frailty, of human sickness, of human disease, of the mind and the soul, spirit in the heart.

You have, each and every one of you, set before you this day life and death. A blessing or a cursing. Therefore, choose life.

 

 

Published August 15, 2006.  Report broken links or other problems.

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