Just after 9:30 Thursday evening, a jury sentenced Kimberly Cargill to death. Kimberly Cargill was found guilty nearly two weeks ago for killing her mentally challenged babysitter Cherry Walker in 2010.
Smith County 241st District Court Judge Jack Skeen accepted the jury's verdict and formally sentenced Cargill to death by lethal injection.
An automatic appeal has been filed with the Court of Criminal Appeals. Cargill will be appointed an attorney qualified to work on Death Row penalty appeals. Cargill must stay in Smith County until the new lawyer is appointed.
Cherry Walker's step-mother took the witness stand to make a victim impact statement. She thanked the judge, both sides of attorneys and the investigators. She said there is not winner but there is justice.
Mrs. Walker pointed to a pink flower pinned to her blouse and said it represents Cherry. She said pink was Cherry's favorite color.
"I am glad to say tonight that she's here with us in every sense of the word," Mrs. Walker said.
Mrs. Walker also said she wants the court to know that Cherry was important and her life did matter despite her being different.
"Cherry's life meant a lot to all of us," Mrs. Walker said.
KLTV's Melanie Torre has been in the courtroom to bring us live updates on the trial throughout the day:
Cargill Sentencing Day 8
The state begins by thanking the jury. Bingham asks the jury not to forget why they're here amidst all of the testimony they have heard. He tells them Cargill took Cherry Walker's life and in those last moments, Cherry Walker had to have known she was going to die and no one was coming to help her.
The state begins going over what he thinks the defense's argument will be.
Bingham says the defense will argue the answer to special issue number 1 is "no" because maybe someday down the road their could be treatment for Cargill's disorders. Bingham says he guesses the state will tell the jury there is mitigation to special issue number two because Cargill didn't chose this. Bingham says Cargill may not have chosen to have a personality disorder but she chose the conduct. Bingham says many people have sat where Cargill is sitting now with personality disorders. He says a large number of people in the penitentiary have anti-social personality disorder but having a personality disorder doesn't make people kill people.
He says again, she didn't chose to have this disorder but she did chose to do what she did. "This is who she is," Bingham says. Bingham tells the jury Cargill has done so much to hurt so many people. He reminds them of Cargill's ex-husbands, sons and former family members testimonies. He tells them there seems to be a common theme of choking and fire with Cargill. He asks the jury to remember how Cargill hurt her sons. "If you'd do that to your own children, who wouldn't you hurt?"
Bingham says its Cargill's personality disorder that makes her so dangerous. "She is a violent person. She is a capital murderer." Bingham reminds the jury of Chief Pinkerton's testimony, where he told the jury Cargill was one of the most difficult inmates to come through the jail in 28 years . Bingham says Cargill has both of the personality disorders that come with aspects of violence.
Bingham says the psychologists testified that the personality disorders do not make people do what Cargill did.
"She has no condition that would prevent her from knowing right from wrong and acting within the realm of her choices," Bingham says quoting Dr. Gripon's testimony.
Bingham asks the jury to answer the special issues based on the evidence. Bingham says he hopes the jury doesn't go back there and worry about the sentence because she still has young children. "Don't give her the benefit of having a child that throughout his life she has tortured."
Harrison begins his statement by saying he agrees with a lot of what Bingham says. He says Cargill is who she is but we're past holding her accountable for her actions because the jury has already found her guilty. Harrison says either sentence is a harsh sentence and either way Cargill will die incarcerated and never step foot outside of prison. Harrison tells the jury they are about to make a life or death decision that will stay with them forever.
Harrison says of all the jailers the state brought in, there wasn't a single incident of Cargill being violent in two years. He says if she had been a threat, the jury would have heard about it.
Harrison says he's not going to argue that in 20 years there may be a cure for Cargill's personality disorder but there are medications now that can treat the symptoms like depression or anger.
Harrison says Cargill cannot be cured but can be controlled in a prison environment with medication.
He argues Cargill does not pose a threat of future violence because of her good behavior since the offense was committed. He says if you look at all of the evidence from her life, yes Cargill has been violent. But, when trying to project what she's going to do in the future he says the jury should look at her last two years of behavior in jail and all of the medication that could help control her outbursts.
Harrison moves on to special issue number 2. He says mitigation is not an excuse. "After having already held her guilty, is there evidence that reduces her moral blameworthy," he asks the jury. Harrison says the psychologist testimonies prove her mental disorders are mitigating because they're caused by genetics and her environment against her will.
Harrison says Cargill's conduct is driven and fueled by her disorder and all of the expert witnesses testified to that. He says that is the mitigating factor special issue number 2 addresses. He says it's not an excuse for her conduct but lessens her blameworthy and should result in a life without parole sentence.
Jury deliberating now.
Jeff Haas begins his closing argument by saying he often wonders how effective closing arguments are, especially when a jury has been here as long as this one. He tells the jury he wants them to be sure that no matter what they decide justice has been served.
Haas says Cargill's personality disorders are not an excuse for her actions and he hopes no one on the jury thinks that is what he is trying to say.
He says he can't definitively say this is what happened, but he says their witness Jonathan Lipman testified medication Cargill took is known to cause problems in people with personality disorders.
Haas says Cargill did do some things normal mothers wouldn't even do for their children like make our son a George Washington costume for a school play.
Hass talks about the prison warden's testimony and reminds the jury that some people on death row are treated like celebrities with pen pals and websites devoted to them. He says people on death row don't just "go away."
Haas says he agrees there isn't a cure right now for personality disorder.
He says each juror's opinion is worthy of respect and he trusts that none of them will be persuaded to change their opinion because they just want to get this over with.
He asks them to remember when Cargill told her mother she hopes she dies a lonely old woman. He tells them to give Cargill life and she'll go away and eventually die a lonely old woman.
April Sykes begins the closing statement for the State, She says she doesn't care if Cargill dies a lonely old woman. Sykes says she is sick to death of hearing about Cargill's personality disorder. "SO WHAT," she shouts. She asks the jury if the personality disorder even matters and if they were shocked to hear Cargill had something psychologically wrong with her.
"Did you think she was just like you and me," she asks. Skyes calls Cargill a killer, child abuser and a law breaker. She says it's absolutely ridiculous that Cargill's personality would make her less blameworthy. She addresses one of Haas's statements where he alleges maybe Cargill developed her disorder as a result of a difficult childhood. Sykes tells the jury if they want to talk about a bad childhood then they should talk about the childhood Cargill has given all four of her sons. She says Cargill's sons have had the worst childhood someone could have given them.
Sykes talks a lot about Cherry Walker, not to let the jury forget what the case is really about. Sykes calls Cargill a monster. "That monster stood over Cherry Walker's still warm body and squirted lighter fluid on it."
Sykes says Cargill is evil, evil incarnate, evil in its purest form, evil sitting right here in the courtroom. Sykes addresses the defense's argument that her two years of good behavior in jail mean more than her 20 years of bad behavior in society. Sykes says, Cargill is in jail awaiting capital murder trial. Of course she's going to be on her best behavior. "She knows we're watching." Sykes says one of the best predictors of the future is the past. She tells the jury Cargill will always be a danger and goes through a long list of Cargill's bad decisions from abusing her children, having her husbands wrongfully arrested, setting fires, identity theft, making threats all the way up to capital murder. Sykes talks about Cargill's testimony during the guilt/innocence phase. She reads the jury a transcript of Cargill's testimony where Cargill repeatedly admits that she made wrong, bad and disgusting decisions. Sykes says even Cargill knew she was in control and making her own decisions.
Sykes tells the jury not to let this make them feel guilty. She says not to listen to Harrison's statement about this being a decision they'll carry with them for the rest of their lives. She tells them Cargill is the one who made the decision a long ago and it's their job to stop her from ever having another victim. Cargill sits by her attorneys shaking her head, "no." Sykes closes by telling the jury Cargill took Cherry Walker's one and only life and took away her family's opportunity to tell her goodbye. Sykes says one of Cargill's ex-husbands said it best when he called Cherry Walker an angel who was protecting Cargill's boys and didn't even know it. Walker's dad is sitting directly behind Cargill crying.
"God rest Cherry Walker's soul," Sykes says.
The jury has been deliberating Cargill's fate since just after Noon on Thursday.
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