Expert discusses likelihood of death penalty in Pressly case - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Reported by Kontji Anthony

Expert discusses likelihood of death penalty in Pressly case

Anne Pressly Anne Pressly

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV0 - Capital murder is the charge against a Marianna, Arkansas man accused in the brutal killing of Little Rock news anchor Anne Pressly.

Little Rock Police say Curtis Vance beat News Anchor Anne Pressly to death in her bedroom.

Monday, on NBC's Today Show, Pressly's parents noted he could get the death penalty.

"The prosecutor has not yet indicated whether he's going to seek that or not," Pressly's father, Guy Cannady said.

Pulaski County District Attorney Larry Jegley said Wednesday he can't determine if he'll seek the death penalty until he sees Pressly's file.  But the D.A. is an elected position, so public pressure could force his hand.

According to death penalty expert Robert Hutton, a person must first be proven guilty or innocent.  Then, prosecutors must prove the murder happened amid at least one of ten aggravating circumstances.

"If there are prior convictions," he said. "I don't know if there are. Or a rape-murder, (if) she was murdered in the course of a rape, or the murder being especially heinous, atrocious and cruel."

In this case, the Rhodes College graduate was sexually assaulted, her face beaten beyond recognition, and personal items were stolen from her home.  Also, Vance has a history of burglaries, and Marianna Police charged him with raping a school teacher there.

Hutton believes Vance's defense will argue for a sentence less than death because of mitigating circumstances.

"Childhood issues, the way somebody was raised as a child, mental illness issues, remorse," Hutton said.

If the aggravating circumstances outweigh the mitigating circumstances, a jury will choose the death penalty.

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