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Jury decides punishment during guilt phase

A jury convicted James Valdez of first degree murder and attempted murder on Friday. The penalty hearing in the death penalty case is scheduled to begin on Monday, April 2. The Las Vegas Review Journal reports, however, that "in an unusual twist, the jury foreman told [Judge] Bonaventure that the jury had already decided on a penalty." The incredibly premature decision was not disclosed in the newspaper and it appears that it was not disclosed to the parties or the court either.

I think "an unusual twist" is a major understatement. It will be interesting to see how this plays out on Monday.

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