A Summit County jury will return next month to consider whether a Barberton man should live or die for the death of a pregnant teenage girl.
Several jurors — after deliberating for three days over two nights — wept openly in court Friday before their verdicts against David Stoddard were announced.
Tears from family and friends of 16-year-old Anna Karam followed as Judge Thomas Teodosio read the lengthy verdicts that found Stoddard guilty of aggravated murder with death penalty specifications.
He was also convicted of a lesser count of reckless homicide in the death of the teen’s unborn child, and aggravated burglary, attempted murder and felonious assault.
The same jurors will meet again, likely at the end of April, to consider a sentence for Stoddard, 25. Teodosio did not immediately set a date.
Jurors can recommend a death sentence or a prison term without the possibility of parole. They could also provide a life sentence with a potential parole date. Additional years can be tacked on for the lesser charges.
Michael Karam, the slain teen’s father, was disappointed that the jury opted to find Stoddard guilty of a lesser count of reckless homicide for the death of the baby his daughter was carrying.
But, he left little doubt as to his feelings on an appropriate sentence.
“He went in there with guns, he wasn’t just shooting at [practice] targets, OK. He should’ve been guilty of everything,” Michael Karam said after the verdicts.
Asked what sentence Stoddard should receive, Karam looked a reporter in the eye.
“Sir, I would kill him myself if I could,” the father said. “I think you know what I want.”
Stoddard opened fire inside an acquaintance’s East Archwood Avenue home at about 4 a.m. on Jan. 6, 2013. Anna Karam and her unborn child died. Jessica Halman, 20, of Barberton, was shot in the head, but survived.
Halman was in the courtroom and was consoled by a victim advocate for much of the verdict reading. She declined to comment afterward.
Akron police say Stoddard went to the home armed with two handguns looking for his 21-year-old girlfriend, Jennifer Risten. But she wasn’t there.
He then argued with a young man inside and moments later fired four shots.
On Friday, Stoddard kept his head bowed to nearly his knees while the verdicts were being read. He made no statements. His attorneys declined comment.
Anna Karam’s grandmother, Barbara Hilton, left the court with Anna’s mother, Patricia Karam. They expressed satisfaction with the verdict.
“I guess she got her justice,” Hilton said of her granddaughter. “I prefer he get life so he can never get out of jail and be in solitary confinement every Jan. 6.”