Crime & Courts
Defendant lets lawyer argue against death penalty after losing acting as his own attorney
TAMPA - For the second time, a jury will try to decide today whether Khalid Ali Pasha should be executed for stabbing and bludgeoning his wife and stepdaughter to death in 2002. The Florida Supreme Court in 2010 overturned Pasha's 2007 murder convictions and death sentence in the killings of Robin Canaday, 43, and her daughter, Ranesha Singleton, 20. The high court said Pasha should have been allowed to serve as his own attorney at his original trial. Pasha represented himself at his retrial last month and was again convicted of the murders.For the sentencing phase of the second trial, Pasha obtained a lawyer, J. Jervis Wise, who urged jurors not to recommend a death sentence. "What good comes from killing this man?" Wise asked jurors. The defense lawyer noted that one way or another, Pasha, 69, will die in prison. The only determination for the jury, he said, is whether Pasha will die of natural causes or by lethal injection. The prosecutor, Jalal Harb, told jurors Pasha has to be held accountable for the brutal murders, which he said meet the legal definition of cold, calculated and premeditated, as well as heinous, atrocious and cruel. Harb also argued that jurors should find the existence of other aggravating factors — that Pasha was on parole for a 1970 bank robbery at the time of the killings and that he had committed prior felonies, two bank robberies. Harb said the murders were especially "wicked" because mother and daughter saw each other being beaten and stabbed to death. Wise said the murders were not calculated. "This was done in a frenzy," the defense lawyer said. "There was not anything planned out. Something snapped." Wise said that although "there was some suffering" on the part of the victims, there was no more than in most other murders. "They, fortunately, did die within a relatively short period of time." Wise also urged jurors to find some good in Pasha, who faced severe corporal punishment as a child and lost two mother figures when he was very young. Pasha, the lawyer said, grew up facing the indignity of racial segregation in Alabama in the 1950s and 1960s. This, Wise said, was "a major contributing factor" to the murders. Wise said a death sentence won't protect society from Pasha because whatever the jury decides, Pasha is "never getting out. He's dying in prison one way or the other." A majority of jurors must recommend the death penalty before a judge can impose the sentence. The jurors in Pasha's last trial voted 7-5. Had one more juror voted against death, Pasha would not have been eligible for execution.
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