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Jurors Recommend Death Penalty For Espinoza In Jamiel Shaw Killing

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LOS ANGELES (CBS) — A jury recommended on Wednesday that a gang member who gunned down a standout Los Angeles High School football player because he was carrying a red Spider-Man backpack should be sentenced to death.

Jurors were asked to decide whether to recommend either death or life in prison without the possibility of parole for Pedro Espinoza, 23, who was convicted May 9 of killing Jamiel Shaw on March 2, 2008, near his home in Arlington Heights.

Deputy District Attorney Allyson Ostrowski told jurors Tuesday that while Espinoza was serving time in juvenile custody years before Shaw’s killing, Espinoza told a Probation Department employee that he was “down for death row” and understood someone had to kill to get there.

The remark has “shown us that Pedro Espinoza has literally aspired to be here, he has literally aspired to sit in this chair as a capital murder defendant,” the prosecutor told the Los Angeles Superior Court panel.

Defense attorney M. David Houchin told the six-man, six-woman jury that there has been “so much emotion in this case.”

Jurors deliberated about four hours on May 9 before convicting Espinoza of first-degree murder and finding true the special circumstance allegation that the slaying was carried out to further the activities of a criminal street gang.

(©2012 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)

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