A Summit County jury that convicted an Akron man of fatally shooting his cousin and wounding a second man has opted against imposing the death penalty.
Bryan Giles, 20, was convicted last month of aggravated murder, attempted murder, aggravated burglary and aggravated robbery.
Jurors returned to court Tuesday to hear testimony and consider what sentence to recommend to Common Pleas Judge Alison McCarty.
After about four hours of deliberations, the jury decided to recommend the sentence of life in prison with parole eligibility in 30 years. He will be sentenced March 19.
Prosecutors opened Tuesday’s mitigation hearing by urging jurors to impose the death penalty. They contend the facts surrounding the death of Jarrell Cunningham, 27, and wounding of Terrell Patterson, 21, warrant the state’s harshest sentence.
Defense attorneys asked for a lesser sentence of life in prison, either without parole or parole possible after 25 or 30 years.
For his part, Giles spoke to jurors for the first time. It came at the end of Tuesday’s sentencing hearing when he read a contrite three-page statement that he warned would be vague because of his pending appeals.
He called himself a “rededicated Christian” and said the shooting represented a “tragic episode that should have never transpired.”
“Believe me, I’d gladly love to change yesterday’s mistakes, but it’s impossible,” he told jurors.
He called the shooting a “true living nightmare” for himself. It was compounded, he said, by the birth of his son six months after his arrest.
“I did not mean for the downward domino effect to be taking place with all the grief, havoc and turmoil” that followed the shooting, he said.
“My prayers are that [my son] doesn’t get caught up in the street life or follow in his father’s footsteps.”
Giles was found guilty last month in the Feb. 5, 2013, shooting on Madison Avenue in Akron. Cunningham died of a single gunshot wound to the head. Patterson was shot twice in the head but survived.
Police say Giles broke inside his cousin’s home, shot the men and stole cash and marijuana before fleeing.
Giles confessed to the crimes less than a week after the shootings while being questioned by Akron detectives, police said.
During Tuesday’s hearing, defense attorneys Charles Quinn and George Pappas questioned psychologist Dr. Joseph Bendo, who interviewed Giles in jail and found his IQ to be 80 and his mental capacity to exhibit impulse control poor.
Compelling testimony Tuesday came from two women who said they helped raise Giles after his own mother abandoned the responsibility when he was a young child.
Jacqueline Tatum of Akron said Giles never knew his father while growing up and his mother had three other children, all with different men.
Tijuanna Patterson eventually came to call Giles her son, although she was not his biological mother. She did, however, raise him from the time he was 5 until he graduated high school.
Patterson said she took custody of the young Giles when his mother was “giving away her kids.”
“She didn’t want to be a mother anymore,” she told jurors.
She said the boy couldn’t tie his shoes and was behind in school when he first came to her Akron home. For the next several summers, she made sure Giles went to summer school.
During the same time, Patterson said, she tried to foster a relationship with Giles and his family, but the visits eventually ended.
“They didn’t really seem interested, so I stopped taking him,” Patterson said. “He couldn’t understand why his mother gave him up.”
Despite his struggles, Giles graduated from high school with a 1.8 grade-point average. He worked briefly as a hospital janitor and fast-food worker before the shooting.
Six months after Giles’ arrest, his girlfriend gave birth to his son.
Meisha Smith, 19, said she and Giles had dated since about seventh grade. She said it was apparent that Giles had “some mental issues” because of his childhood.
“There were problems, but who knew this would happen,” she testified.
Phil Trexler can be reached at 330-996-3717 or firstname.lastname@example.org.