Death Penalty Recommended for Man Convicted of Killing Girl, Mutilating Body

A jury recommended the death penalty Friday for a man convicted of luring a 10-year-old girl into his apartment, killing her and mutilating her body.

Jurors deliberated for nearly 8 1/2 hours before recommending that Kevin Underwood, 28, be put to death for killing Jamie Rose Bolin. He was convicted last week of first-degree murder.

Underwood, who showed no emotion as the verdict was read, was handcuffed and led from the courtroom while 10 armed deputies stood guard. He is scheduled to be formally sentenced on April 3.

His mother, Connie Underwood, sobbed quietly after the verdict was announced.

Jamie's father, Curtis Bolin, had little to say. "I still have to absorb it," he said, overcome with emotion.

During closing arguments, prosecutors argued that Underwood should be put to death because he is plagued by deviant sexual fantasies that make him want to kill, rape, torture and eat his victims.

Jurors also had the option of sentencing Underwood to life in prison, either with or without the possibility of parole. For him to be sentenced to death, prosecutors needed to prove either that he is a continuing threat to society or that the crime was heinous, atrocious and cruel.

Prosecutor Greg Mashburn recounted the final moments of Jamie's life, struggling for air as the former grocery stocker suffocated her after luring her into his Purcell apartment.

"This was the worst of the worst," Mashburn said as he displayed some of the items found in Underwood's apartment, including a cutting board prosecutors say he used to beat the victim before suffocating her.

"There are cases for life without parole and for the possibility of parole. This just isn't it," he said.

Underwood's attorneys declined to comment after the jury handed down its verdict.

Two jurors were initially intent on a sentence of life without the possibility of parole, panelist Earl Garrett said. He said he persuaded them to change their minds.

"I had to hurt their feelings ... but I wasn't there to make friends," Garrett said. "It hurts to know you're sending a man to die, but he killed this little girl. He signed his own death warrant."

Underwood's attorneys did not dispute that he killed Jamie in April 2006, but argued that he suffered from a host of mental illnesses and was overcome by deviant sexual urges.

Underwood said in a videotaped confession that he fantasized about torturing and killing a person and cannibalizing the body. No evidence has been presented that any cannibalism took place.

The girl's body was found in a plastic tub in Underwood's apartment. Her head had been nearly cut off.

"Mr. Underwood suffers from several severe psychiatric disorders," attorney Wayne Woodyard said. "Is there any question that Kevin Ray Underwood was a sick and disturbed young man when he committed this homicide?"

Woodyard said Underwood expressed remorse and could be helped with medication.

About a dozen of Jamie's family members sat in court to listen to closing arguments, including the girl's father.

Family members each wore a red ribbon signifying her middle name, Rose, and a green ribbon representing the color of her clothes when she was buried. Underwood's family was also in the courtroom Friday.