Mal­don­ado given death penalty

The Covington News - - Front page - AM­BER PITTMAN apittman@cov­news.com

What started on June 11, 2009 with the murder of 53-year-old Tim Clements, ended Thurs­day af­ter­noon when a jury im­posed the death penalty on the al­leged ring­leader, 25-year-old Pablo Mal­don­ado.

Ju­rors lis­tened to Mal­don­ado’s fam­ily the lat­ter part of Tues­day and all day Wed­nes­day tell of his life as a young boy in Mex­ico, all say­ing that he was un­wanted, unloved and ne­glected.

“He was raised like a lit­tle an­i­mal,” his cousin Xo­chitl Mo­rales tes­ti­fied. “The peo­ple who were sup­posed to take care of him didn’t care for him, so he didn’t un­der­stand what love was.”

Dur­ing clos­ing Thurs­day morn­ing, Dis­trict At­tor­ney Layla Zon told ju­rors that the murder of Clements was vile, in­hu­man, de­praved and pre­med­i­tated.

“This man lost his life for noth­ing,” she said. “I don’t think the hu­man heart or the hu­man mind is made to un­der­stand this type of evil.” Zon told ju­rors not to feel

guilty about giv­ing Mal­don­ado the death penalty if they thought it was war­ranted.

“He is a de­praved hu­man be­ing whose life cer­tainly has value, but here is why we’re here to­day, be­cause ev­ery­one’s life has value... God gave him life just like he did Tim Clements. The dif­fer­ence is, Tim Clements val­ued this man’s life, he in­vested in this man’s life... showed him acts of kind­ness and re­spect...the only tears you saw in the court­room is when he’s feel­ing sorry for him­self... Don’t let the de­fen­dant try to make you feel guilty... be­cause of the de­fen­dant’s ac­tions...we are here to­day to ad­min­is­ter a pu­n­ish­ment. To­day is a day for judg­ment. To­day is a day for con­se­quences to be paid for his ac­tions… This is not one of these cases you’ll be sit­ting, 20 years from now, won­der- ing if you made the right de­ci­sion.”

De­fense at­tor­ney Stephen Yekel sug­gested to ju­rors that they could sen­tence Mal­don­ado to live with the pos­si­bil­ity of pa­role and he would not be el­i­gi­ble for 30 years, or life with­out pa­role, which would keep him in jail for the rest of his life.

“No­body can jus­tify for tak­ing a hu­man life un­less it’s a case of self-de­fense and you were told from day one this wasn’t that type of case...it wasn’t just Mr. Mal­don­ado, it was other peo­ple in­volved… You have to make a de­ter­mi­na­tion if this 25-yearold man should be killed… This is such an ul­ti­mate de­ci­sion that you can’t change later.”

Yekel told ju­rors that all life was valu­able, “Is ev­ery­body’s life valu­able? Yes. Was Mr. Clements life valu­able? No doubt about it... the ques­tion is, does this bring it to a dif­fer­ent level?”

“Each one of you... have to make that de­ci­sion, as to what the pu­n­ish­ment is. And it’s whether Mr. Mal­don­ado, who al­ways wanted to be free and run­ning the coun­try­side, is go­ing to be in prison for the rest of his life...or whether he should be strapped on that gur­ney and his life taken from him...do we kill that 25-year-old man? Or do we give him the hope of liv­ing his life...in a cell, for the rest of his life. Where he’ll die, where he’ll never see the light of day... he’ll be locked away and for­got­ten un­til he fi­nally takes his last breath.”

The ju­rors an­swered Yekel’s ques­tion at 2:40 p.m., af­ter de­lib­er­at­ing for a lit­tle over two hours.

In ad­di­tion to death, Judge Ho­race John­son gave Mal­don­ado ad­di­tional sen­tences of life plus 25 years for the other charges he was found guilty of armed rob­bery, ag­gra­vated as­sault, false im­pris­on­ment, con­ceal­ing the death of an­other and sec­ond de­gree forgery.

“I ex­tend my ap­pre­ci­a­tion to the ju­rors for their time and con­sid­er­a­tion of this case,” said Zon. “Tim Clements was a good man, a man I wish I could have met. Hope­fully the con­clu­sion of this case will bring some clo­sure to his fam­ily, at least with re­spect to the ju­di­cial process. The New­ton County Sher­iff’s Of­fice and the GBI should both be com­mended for their work on this in­ves­ti­ga­tion.”

Gabriel Khouli /The Cov­ing­ton News

A jury im­posed the death penalty on 25-year-old Pablo Mal­don­ado and gave him a life sen­tence plus 25 years Thurs­day af­ter­noon for the murder of Rock­dale land­scaper Tim Clements.

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