JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A jury recommended the death penalty Thursday for a lawn maintenance man convicted of murdering an 82-year-old woman in December 2009.
The jury voted 8-4 to make the recommendation for 41-year-old Cecil King, who was convicted last week of killing Renie Bain, whose home he serviced. A judge will decide next month whether to uphold the recommendation.
Bain's family members found her beaten to death in her home. Prosecutors said King killed Bain with a hammer, striking her at least 17 times.
"This verdict is a great day on a new start in the beautification in the great city of Jacksonville," Sabrina Gouch, of the Justice Coalition, said last week as she read a statement from Dana Telzer, Bain's son, who was too emotional to read it. "Somehow, some way I wanted justice for all of Jacksonville, and I think today was a giant step in that direction. I want Cecil King to forever remember my mother, Renie Telzer Bain. I know all the lives she touched will forever remember her."
Both prosecution and defense attorneys called witnesses during the sentencing hearing Thursday to give impact statements. Family members of Bain and King family testified.
"I can't begin to tell you about the impact her death has had on me, my husband and son," Lysa Telzer, Bain's daughter-in-law, said in court.
"All of our lives are forever changed for having known Renie Telzer Bain," one of Bain's neighbors said.
King's relatives told the court he's a bright man who once considered a career in ministry. They said he diligently cared for his dying mother and loves his 3-year-old son.
"I don't want my son killed," King's father said. "I want my son to be able to be there so he can be a father to his son more than I was to him."
Prosecutors, however, said the jury needed to focus on Bain, a cancer survivor who adored her grandson. Bain's grandson, Myles Telzer, read a letter in court written by his father, Dana Telzer.
"My mother beat cancer three different times and never complained," Myles Telzer said on his father's behalf. "She always had a positive attitude, a life lesson I learned and will never forget."
Prosecutors said the evidence against King rapidly piled up in the days after Bain's death. That evidence included video from a pawn shop, which prosecutors said shows King selling a bracelet stolen from Bain's home the day she was killed, and a bloody shirt detectives found in King's home.
During the trial, Telzer described the night Bain was killed. She said she had gone to check on Bain and found her Brierwood home ransacked.
"I took a second to look into the bedroom, and I saw her little feet and her little socks and her little green scrubs hanging out on the floor on the other side of the bed," Telzer said, while crying. "And I kneeled down. She was facedown. Thank God I didn't lift up her face, but her hand was ice cold. I knew she was not alive."
King maintained his innocence, saying the evidence linking him to the crime was nothing but a coincidence.
Prosecutors said the final piece of evidence came into place when detectives took a DNA sample from King, swabbing his cheeks. Authorities said his DNA matched the DNA left on a piece of fruit found inside Bain's home, a home that King said he never went inside.
Video:Video:Document:Cecil King Arrest ReportUncut Video:
Prosecutors said King forced his way into Bain's house on Goodby's Trace Drive, hit her in the head, stole several items and left in her Cadillac. The car was recovered the next day.
In addition to being found guilty of murder, King was found guilty of grand theft auto, burglary, carrying a dangerous weapon and dealing in stolen property, among other charges.