BURLINGTON, Vt. – A federal jury Thursday ruled that a man should be put to death for kidnapping and killing a supermarket worker, in the state's first capital punishment (search) trial in nearly a half-century.
Jurors reached their decision on Donald Fell (search), 25, on the second day of deliberations. Vermont has no death penalty; Fell was convicted under federal law.
Fell showed no emotion as the jury's recommendation was read to the court by the clerk, but then his lawyer stood and told jurors that he had a statement from Fell.
"He respects your decision. He appreciates your hard work and wants to tell you and the family of his sincere remorse. He did not want to do it at any other time publicly as it would be construed to be less genuine," the lawyer said.
Under federal law the judge must impose the death sentence if that is what the jury recommends.
Fell was convicted June 24 of kidnapping Terry King, 53, as she arrived for work at a Rutland supermarket, taking her to New York state and bludgeoning her to death as she prayed for her life.
"It's justice for my sister," said Barbara Tuttle following the verdict. "Everyone got to listen to what he did to her and this is his punishment."
"I think it's what he deserves," said Charlotte Tuttle, King's other sister.
In 2001 Fell had agreed to plead guilty in exchange for a sentence of life without parole. But that deal was rejected by then-U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft (search), who insisted on the death penalty.
The last execution in Vermont was in 1954. Another defendant was sentenced to death in 1957, but the sentence was later commuted.