After an early morning verdict of guilty that saw the Harlan Circuit Court jury deliberating until after 1 a.m. on Thursday, the attempted murder trial of Boss Saylor moved to the penalty phase later Thursday morning.
Thursday marked the third day of the trial, with two full days of testimony before the jury began deliberating on a verdict at around 9:20 p.m. Wednesday.
Before deliberations commenced, both sides summed up their case in closing arguments.
Saylor’s attorney Doug Asher told the jury during his closing argument that the state had not met the burden of proof.
Asher also addressed his client’s lying to investigators.
“This trial is not over whether or not Mr. Saylor denied the shooting at first,” said Asher.
Commonwealth’s Attorney Parker Boggs closed for the prosecution.
“I told you yesterday we were going to begin a search for the truth,” Boggs told the jury. “Now the moment of truth is in your hands.”
Boggs pointed out Saylor had lied to police about several aspects of the incident.
Boggs summed up his case by pointing out that Saylor was the only armed participant, saying “Boss Saylor brought a gun to a shouting match.”
The jury then retired to chambers, reaching a verdict at 1:20 a.m. following approximately four hours of deliberation.
Court then recessed until around 11 a.m. Thursday.
With the jury seated,Judge Marc Rosen explained to the jury that because the attempted murder and assault charges were based on the same event, there was a double jeopardy issue that prompted the state to drop the first-degree assault charge. Rosen instructed the jury they would be recommending a sentence on the attempted murder and tampering with physical evidence convictions only.
Before the jury went into deliberations to decide Saylor’s recommended penalty, Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Karen Davenport called Probation and Parole Officer Jenny Powers to the stand to clarify some things for the jury.
Powers verified that in the case of attempted murder, a prisoner must serve 85 percent of the time before being eligible for parole. The tampering with physical evidence conviction requires 15 percent time served prior to parole eligibility.
Asher used his closing statement to ask the jury for the minimum sentence for his client. Asher advised the jury Saylor would be about 84 years old when he became eligible for release under those circumstances.
“The minimum is a death sentence,” said Asher, refering to his client’s chances of living until release due to his advanced age.
Davenport thanked the jury for their service in her closing, but did not make an argument concerning sentencing.
“I’ll make no recommendation whatsoever,” said Davenport. “I’ll leave it in your hands.”
The jury then retired to chambers to consider their recommendation.
After a short deliberation, the jury returned with their recommendation. On the attempted murder conviction, the jury recommended a sentence of 10 years, and a one year sentence on the tampering with physical evidence conviction. The jury recommended the sentences run concurrently, for a total of 10 years in prison.
Rosen read the jury’s recommendation and thanked the panel for their service, saying “It’s been a grueling three days.”
After dismissing the jury, Rosen informed a visibly shaken Saylor that his formal sentencing was set for June 6 at 9 a.m., following a pre-sentence investigation by the office of Probation and Parole.
Saylor was remanded into custody, and court was adjourned.
Boggs, who headed up the prosecution, commended the jury for their work “on a difficult case.”
In an interview outside the courthouse, Saylor’s son, Boss Saylor Jr. expressed his thoughts on his father’s conviction.
“I felt that keeping the jury till almost 2 a.m. was a little bit long on the jury,” said Boss Saylor Jr.
According to Boss Saylor Jr., the jury may have felt pressured to return a verdict.
“When they were sent back to deliberate, I just feel personally that the judge was pushing for a verdict. He had already 11 of them there, and all he needed to do was just have a little more peer pressure and then we had a unanimous vote,” said Boss Saylor Jr.
Boss Saylor Jr. said that he felt that his father’s case was “hindered” because of evidence that the jury was not allowed to hear referring to the character of the victim.
“I feel like Boss Saylor didn’t get a fair shot at it,” said Boss Saylor Jr. “He’s 75 years old, and a 10-year sentence, that’s pretty well his life.”
Reach Joe P. Asher at 606-573-4510, ext. 113, firstname.lastname@example.org