A penalty hearing to determine whether convicted child killer Aric Shayne Woodard should be sentenced to death began Monday morning in York County Court.
Woodard can only receive the death penalty if jurors unanimously agree to impose it. Otherwise, he will automatically receive life in prison without the possibility of parole.
The same jury on Thursday evening found him guilty of first-degree murder, after about 4-1/2 hours of deliberations. Jurors also had the option of finding Woodard guilty of either third-degree murder or involuntary manslaughter, but rejected those choices.
Jurors found that Woodard, 40, of West Jackson Street, fatally beat 2-year-old Jaques Twinn on Nov. 7, 2011, while baby-sitting the boy and his 1-year-old sister.
York City Detective Al Clarkson has said Woodard, who goes by Shayne, left the children alone to go to a nearby store and that when he returned, he assaulted the child after realizing Jaques had smeared feces on the kitchen carpet.
'Frustrated': Woodard had feelings for the children's mother, Hayley Twinn, but she did not reciprocate, Clarkson said.
"(Woodard) became frustrated that day," the detective has said. "He knew she was out with somebody else, and he realized she was using him to watch her kids while she was out with another guy."
Trial defense attorney Joanne Floyd said Woodard maintains his innocence, and offered an alternate theory that Jaques died of drowning, not being beaten.
The other half of his defense team, Dawn Cutaia, has taken over for the penalty phase.
On Thursday night she said Woodard had instructed her not to present any mitigating evidence at the penalty
phase, an omission that increases the chance he will receive the death penalty.
'Ethical obligation': Cutaia said she will discuss the issue with Woodard, but said no matter what he decides, she still believes she must try to save his life.
"Whether he wants me to or not, I believe I have an ethical obligation to put on mitigating evidence," she said.
First assistant district attorney Jennifer Russell and senior deputy prosecutor Duane Ramseur will try to convince jurors Woodard deserves to die for his crime. As aggravating factors to support the death penalty, prosecutors have cited Jaques' young age and that his death amounted to torture.
Jurors will then have to weigh the aggravating and mitigating factors presented to them.
-- Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at firstname.lastname@example.org.