Jury recommends Richard Burgin be sentenced to life without parole for Huntsville church double murder


Richard Burgin listens to testimony during his capital murder trial, at the Madison County Courthouse, May 3, 2017.

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - Prosecutors argued that Richard Burgin deserved the death penalty for killing Anthony and Terry Jackson in May 2013 while they worked at the West Huntsville United Methodist Church Food Bank.

But the jury deliberated for less than an hour before announcing that it voted 8 to 4 to recommend to the judge that Burgin should get life in prison without parole, rather than the death penalty.

The Madison County DA`s Office Chief Trial Attorney, Tim Gann said he was pleased with Burgin`s conviction.

"We did secure a capital verdict, which is the most important thing," said Gann. "We were asking them to recommend the death sentence, they did not, which is their prerogative, but I am extremely happy as it sits right now he will never breathe free air again and that`s really the most important thing."

In arguing for the death penalty Gann told jurors the killing of the two men in a church food bank was "shockingly evil" and failure to recommend a death sentence would "discount the men Anthony and Terry were, and discount the way they died."

Defense attorney Chad Morgan said the defense disagreed with the decision to convict Burgin. But he said he wasn't surprised by the jury voting against the death penalty.

"When you`re talking about capital murder and you start talking about there`s two possibilities, you`ve got life without and you've got the death penalty, it`s hard for people to give that death penalty, we know that and the state knows that," said Morgan.

The penalty phase of the trial Wednesday also featured the defense's presentation of witnesses, including psychologist Carol Walker.

Walker examined Burgin for the defense. She said her review of his Veterans Administration records and extensive interviews found Burgin had a serious addiction to crack cocaine. Walker said Burgin struggled with cocaine addiction and Veterans Administration doctors also diagnosed him with post-traumatic stress disorder and bi-polar disorder.

Circuit Judge Karen Hall will hold a sentencing hearing in about two months. Gann hopes she`ll agree with the prosecution`s call for a death sentence.
Because Burgin was charged back in 2014, the judge gets the last word in sentencing. The state`s recent ban on judicial overrides doesn`t apply to Burgin`s case.

"The way they were killed for one, and the life they lived, for two, that`s why we argued so passionately for the death sentence," said Gann. "We felt it was extremely deserving in this case."