EL RENO, Okla. – An Oklahoma jury has recommended a death sentence for a 36-year-old former oil worker convicted of raping and fatally beating a young mother and burning down her home with her child trapped inside.
Derek Don Posey was convicted in May on two counts of first-degree murder in the 2013 killings of Amy Gibbins, 22, and her five-year-old son, Bryor.
The Canadian County District Court jurors recommended the death penalty on Thursday, The Oklahoman reported. Posey's formal sentencing is set for July.
"Ladies and gentlemen, this isn't about vengeance. This is about justice for Amy and Bryor Gibbins," John Salmon, assistant district attorney, told jurors.
Posey and Amy Gibbins became acquaintances after meeting in a bar. He worked on an oil rig near Calumet at the time. Authorities identified Posey as a suspect after they found that he stole Gibbins' debit card and used it to clear out her bank account. He was subsequently apprehended in Tulsa.
He was also connected to the crime by DNA evidence. Investigators initially believed the fire to be an accident, but a bank employee discovered the suspicious funds withdrawal. The findings led to another investigation.
The trial was considered one of the lengthiest criminal cases in the state's history. Prosecutors presented wide-ranging evidence about other crimes committed by Posey to support their request of the death penalty. The crimes included sexual assaults.
Defense attorneys called on nearly 30 witnesses during the sentencing period in support of their request for a punishment of life in prison without the likelihood of parole.
The case took years to come to trial for several reasons, which include changes in defense attorneys and the retirement of the initial judge.
Jurors took just three hours to decide on the death sentences for Posey.
"Six years is a long time to wait for justice," Salmon said afterward.
Posey could become the fifth inmate to be sentenced to death in Oklahoma since executions were halted in 2015 following a series of bungled lethal injections.
State officials are expected to establish a protocol to make Oklahoma the first state to use nitrogen in executions.
Information from: The Oklahoman, http://www.newsok.com