DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – A jury in Dallas County entered its second day of deliberations on Friday, trying to determine the fate of a convicted killer. Before noon, it was announced that Matthew Johnson had been sentenced to death.
Jurors spent Thursday night sequestered at a local hotel, so as not to be influenced in what was literally a life-or-death decision.
These same jurors found Johnson guilty of captial murder last week in the death of a Garland convenience store clerk. Johnson robbed 76-year-old Nancy Harris and set her on fire. The vicious attack was recorded by surveillance cameras.
The jury determined that Johnson posed a continued threat to society — and there were no extenuating circumstances for his behavior due to his drug addiction past. The verdict was reached just after 11:00 a.m. on Friday. Had jurors not been able to reach a unanimous decision about the punishment, Johnson would have automatically received a sentence of life in prison.
Jurors were allowed to make phone calls to family members on Friday morning, but were closely monitored by baliffs and only allowed to tell their loved ones that they were okay and heading back to court. Deliberations on Thursday lasted for about six hours.
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