Jury recommends Longo be sentenced to death

The Associated Press, Apr. 16, 2003

NEWPORT, Ore. (AP) — Convicted family killer Christian Longo stood before a packed courtroom Wednesday as a jury recommended that he be sentenced to death for the murders of his wife and three young children.

The Lincoln County jury of eight women and four men deliberated for about five hours after beginning the penalty phase of the case late Tuesday. The same jury had earlier convicted Longo, 29, for the murder of his two older children.

Longo had previously pleaded guilty to killing his wife, MaryJane, and their youngest daughter Madison.

Judge Robert Huckleberry asked Longo and his court-appointed attorneys to stand as he read the verdict.

Longo bowed his head and tears rolled down his cheeks as Huckleberry read the jury’s verdict, which named his wife and each of his children in turn. Jurors wrote that they considered Longo a threat to society.

With the verdict, Longo became the 27th person on Oregon’s death row. Only two people have been executed since the state reinstated capital punishment in 1984, both after waiving their appeals.

Longo had first asked for, then waived his right to make a final plea for his life to the jury that convicted him last week for murdering his son, 4-year-old Zachery, and 3-year-old daughter Sadie.

Longo earlier pleaded guilty to killing his wife, MaryJane, 34, and 2-year-old daughter Madison.

His lawyer, Ken Hadley, asked for mercy on his client’s behalf, saying, “Nobody has come out with a study that says the death penalty deters crime, and eye-for-an-eye type justice is not a good form of justice.”

But prosecutor Steven Briggs urged the jury to impose the death penalty for Longo.

“He wanted his children dead,” Briggs told the jury during the penalty phase of the trial. “There is an injustice in this courtroom that you have the power to correct.”

In closing argument Tuesday, prosecutors also accused Longo of trying to divert attention from his crimes by falsely blaming his wife.

Prosecutor Paulette Sanders also dismissed as excuses arguments by Longo’s defense team that he was abused as a child and suffers from narcissistic personality disorder, and that he was humiliated by fellow Jehovah’s Witnesses who shunned him after his conviction for passing bad checks.

Sanders told the jury that Longo went to Cancun, Mexico, after the murders, showing no signs of grief.

“He was drinking and partying — he wasn’t thinking about his family, he was thinking about himself,” she said.

Sanders said Longo “is concerned only about himself, and no matter where he ends up, he will be a danger.”

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