Jury Recommends Death Penalty for Creque

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DECATUR, Ala. (WHNT) - The jury for Jordaan Creque, the first person tried for the Krystal restaurant murders in Decatur, has recommended that Creque be sentenced to death. The all-female jury, who convicted Creque on three counts of capital murder Friday, returned with the recommendation just before 6:30 P.M. Monday evening, culminating a day and a half of testimony in the trial's sentencing phase. The jury's vote was 11-to-1 in favor of the death penalty.

Creque showed no visible reaction to the decision. Circuit Court Judge Glen Thompson scheduled formal sentencing for January 15, 2014 at 9:00 A.M., and ordered a pre-sentencing investigation of Creque.

Earlier Monday, Creque took the witness stand and apologized to the families of the two people shot to death during the August, 2011 robbery of the fast food restaurant. "I just wanted to have the opportunity to say I'm sorry for my actions and participation in such an event," Creque said, mentioning the two families by name. He added, "I know there's nothing I can say or do to bring any kind of relief that would comfort you. I just wanted to say I'm sorry for the lives that have been taken from you." He then addressed the jury apologizing to them for the time they have spent hearing and deliberating the case.

Continued from Friday afternoon, the sentencing phase of the trial was to have resumed at 8:30 A.M. at the Morgan County Courthouse, however lawyers spent much of the morning in a closed hearing reviewing new evidence obtained over the weekend. Morgan County District Attorney Scott Anderson says following the testimony Friday by  defense witness Cheri Hodson, a mitigation investigator who testified she has spent a year researching Creque's past, records were checked at the Morgan County Jail including recordings of telephone calls between Creque and his mother.

Hobson told the court Creque had suffered a head injury at age 2 years, and was berated by his mother who she says called him stupid and retarded. Hobson testified Creque smoked marijuana with his mother and was, on occasions, sent to buy illegal drugs for her. She described the family as dysfunctional and says there are no records of Creque's education beyond 5th grade when Creque's mother told school officials she planned to educate him at home. Creque later testified that basically everything Hobson said was true.

Anderson says the recorded telephone calls Creque made from the jail to his mother would show a completely different relationship than described by Hobson. The jury listened to three 15-minute recordings in which Creque's mother repeatedly told him she loved him, that his family loved and supported him, and urged him to embrace his Christian religion.

Following the jury's recommendation Monday evening, Anderson read a statement from the families of murder victims Jeffery Graff and Jessie Aguilar that thanked police investigators and the district attorney's staff for their diligence in prosecuting the case. When asked about Creque's testimony, Anderson told reporters Creque had no credibility. "The truth is not in Mr. Creque," Anderson said.

Guilty verdict

A jury convicted Creque on Friday of capital murder in connection with the August 2011 deaths of two Krystal employees in Decatur.

The sentencing phase began Friday afternoon shortly after the verdict.  Sentencing options included life in prison or the death penalty.

Creque is the first of three people to stand trial in this case.  Cassandra Eldred and Ezekiel Gholston are also charged with capital murder.

L to R: Jeffrey Graff, Jesse Aguilar

L to R: Jeffrey Graff, Jesse Aguilar

All three are charged in connection with the shooting deaths of Jeffrey Graff and Jesse Aquilar.  An employee found the bodies of the 23-year-old Aguilar and the 50-year-old Graff inside the Krystal restaurant on 6th Avenue in Decatur.

Aguilar worked at the restaurant.  Graff worked as the night manager.  Police say both were shot to death during a robbery.

Gholston and Eldred will be tried separately.  No trial dates have been set in either case.

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