Marshall County death row inmate hopes for reduced sentence

Marshall County death row inmate hopes for reduced sentence

MARSHALL COUNTY, AL (WAFF) - A Marshall County man on death row for the killing of his wife and her unborn child returned to court Wednesday.

Jessie Phillips is hoping to have his sentence reduced. This after an appeals court seeks clarification from the judge on his 2012 sentence.

Prosecutors in the case are asking the judge to clarify to the appeals court, reasons why he ordered the death penalty.

But defense attorneys see this as an opportunity for Phillips to be re-sentenced to life without parole. More than three years after he was sentenced, Jessie Phillips was back before his trial judge Wednesday morning.

Phillips was sentenced to death in 2012 for the shooting death of Erica Droze. Droze was 8 weeks pregnant when she was shot in the head by Phillips at Lakeside Car Wash back in 2009.

On Wednesday, the parties began revisiting the aggravating and mitigating circumstances surrounding the decision to sentence Phillips to death.

Defense attorneys argued he should be given life without, because there were several mitigating circumstances including Phillips bad childhood, mother had drug problems, he was in foster care, as well as he had no significant criminal history.

Prosecutors argued the single aggravating circumstance of taking the life of the mother, and giving no life opportunities for the unborn child outweighs those mitigating circumstances.

"Our position is the judge doesn't need to change his sentence. In fact, he simply needs to amend his order and allow the sentence that was imposed and recommended by the jury and by him to be eventually carried out," says Marshall County District Attorney Steve Marshall.

The judge asked both sides to submit their briefs to the court by the end of the month and a future hearing date will be set.

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