High Court Considers Legality of Inmate's Death Request

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - The state Supreme Court on Thursday considered whether a death row inmate convicted of brutally killing two children can proceed with his wish to expedite his own execution.

Marco Chapman's court-appointed attorneys argued against Chapman's death wish before the high court, saying, among other things, that the judge at Chapman's sentencing should have sought evidence that might have mitigated the sentence.

Chapman asked a judge after his guilty plea in 2004 to allow him to be executed, and the judge agreed.

"There is no case, whether it's this case or any other horrible case you can imagine, that is so awful that you don't have to take that second step," said Donna L. Boyce, one of Chapman's attorneys. "There is no mandatory death sentence ..."

Chapman admitted to killing 6-year-old Cody Sharon and 7-year-old Chelbi Sharon, and attacking their mother, Carolyn Marksberry, and their sister, Courtney Sharon. Chapman said he deserved to die for the Aug. 23, 2002 attack at Marksberry's home in Gallatin County.

The trial judge, Tony Frohlich, said at the time that he could find no legal reason not to grant Chapman's request.

David Smith, an assistant attorney general, told justices that Chapman was found to be mentally competent after several psychiatric evaluations.

"There's nothing at all inappropriate about a defendant saying, 'Judge I want this particular sentence,' and a judge going along with it," Smith said.

The Kentucky Supreme Court is reviewing the case, as it does with all death penalty convictions. Marksberry attended the Thursday hearing, but declined to comment afterward.

Chief Justice Joseph Lambert wondered if Frohlich may have benefited by hearing mitigation evidence at Chapman's sentencing hearing. Mitigation evidence is typically offered by defense attorneys to cast the accused in a more positive light. Lambert noted that Chapman waived his right to present that evidence.

"If you have a trial judge, who, by virtue of being denied mitigation evidence ... was he denied the very evidence that he needed to make that ultimate decision?" Lambert asked.

Police said Chapman attacked the family because he was upset with Marksberry for telling Chapman's girlfriend to end a relationship with him.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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