March 16, 2014

Ricky Lee Blackwell sentenced to death for killing 8-year-old girl in Spartanburg case

After more than five hours of deliberation, jurors sentenced Ricky Lee Blackwell Sr. to death Sunday night.

Blackwell, 55, was convicted last week of the kidnapping and murder of 8-year-old Heather Brooke Center in July 2009.

Sunday was the fourth day of the sentencing phase of the trial.

In his closing statement, Solicitor Barry Barnette called the assertion that Blackwell is mentally retarded — a contention of his defense team — an insult to the intellectually disabled based on “junk science.”

Jurors later determined that Blackwell was not mentally retarded.

Prosecutors also showed jurors photos of Brooke — one of her on the baseball field and one of her fatally shot — side by side.

In his statement, Barnette quoted Nelson Mandela, saying, “There can be no keener revelation of a society's soul than the way in which it treats its children.”

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