The options are now down to two for convicted cop killer Jonathan D. Renfro and neither will allow him to leave prison alive.
A Kootenai County jury on Tuesday found that prosecutors proved three of four “aggravating factors” that show Renfro, who was convicted last week of murdering Coeur d’Alene Police Sgt. Greg Moore, has the propensity to commit murder that would make him a continuing threat to society.
With the verdict, Renfro’s sentence will now be decided by the jury. They have only two options: life without the possibility of parole or the death penalty.
Renfro “killed without provocation, for simply the motivation of not wanting to go back to prison,” Deputy Kootenai County Prosecutor David Robins told jurors. “Greg (Moore) is dead because he is a police officer trying to defend the community.”
First District Judge Lansing Haynes complied with a request by the prosecution and delayed the final portion of the trial, the mitigating factors phase, to start Monday. In the third and final phase, defense attorneys will largely focus arguments on why Renfro should avoid the death penalty.
Appointed defense attorney Keith Roark suggested at one point Tuesday that the state had not proved its case because Moore was improperly trying to detain Renfro just prior to the shooting on May 5, 2015.
Moore encountered Renfro on a dark residential street just after midnight. Video shows that Moore asked Renfro if he had anything Moore should know about and directed Renfro to come near just as Renfro fired a gun hidden in his pocket.
“I’m not going to suggest what Mr. Renfro did was proper or brave,” Roark said. “The state is asking you to take that one murder he is convicted of, and that was a horrible act, and extrapolate that he will commit murder again.”
The jury, which deliberated for about three hours on Tuesday night, decided exactly that.
It found that Renfro killed Moore because he was an officer performing his official duties; and because Renfro was trying to commit a burglary; and that Renfro showed a propensity to commit murder and that he was a continuing threat to society based on threats to others after the killing.
The jury was undecided on whether Renfro killed Moore during the commission of a robbery. However, the jury earlier had found Renfro guilty of just that on Friday.
Evidence showed that Renfro leaned over Moore as he struggled to breathe and stole his service weapon and two clips. Robins said Renfro then patted the officer down looking for the driver’s license that Moore had taken from Renfro.
“Was (Renfro) going to shoot (Moore) to rob him of his driver’s license?” Roark asked the jury.
The jury’s decision followed a day of testimony from convicted killers, longtime jail inmates and the jailers who manage them. Deputies testified about talking to inmates who told them that Renfro had threatened to kill a deputy and other inmates.
One inmate, Michael McNerney, described how jailers would come early in the morning and leave Renfro in the cold for long stretches of time as they searched his cell. One time, someone poured water in Renfro’s cell all over his papers.
“When you hear testimony that he was badly treated in jail,” Roark said of Renfro, “you might think that’s what you get when you kill a police officer. But you are not treated like dogs.”
Robbins reminded the jury that Renfro, himself a convicted felon who was carrying a stolen gun, chose to take on an armed officer wearing body armor.
“The defendant still has the audacity and the will to attack,” Robbins said. “Sgt. Moore was respectful to the defendant. He was the consummate professional.
“Yet, the defendant was still willing to place a gun up to his face and fire from a distance of 12 inches. That demonstrates a propensity to commit murder.”
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