An Alabama judge sentenced a man to death Thursday who had been previously convicted for torturing and murdering his two young children.
Al.com reports a jury convicted John DeBlase in November for the 2010 murders of his 4-year-old daughter, Natalie DeBlase and her brother Chase DeBlase, 3.
DeBlase told Mobile County Circuit Judge Rick Stout Thursday he did not kill his children and asked that his life be spared.
“I ask for fairness. I'm not going to beg for mercy, I'm asking for mercy. I didn't kill my kids, I love my kids,” he said prior to the judge issuing the sentence, according to WKRG News.
Stout declined his request and sentenced him to die by lethal injection.
“The court has never encountered facts showing a more callous disregard for the sanctity of human life,” Stout said as he read from his 22-page decision. “The court finds that the state has proven beyond a reasonable doubt these capital offenses were especially heinous, atrocious or cruel.”
Members of the jury voted 10 to 2 during the sentencing phase of the trial to recommend the death sentence for DeBlase. The other option the jury had to consider was life without parole.
Stout also read from a confession letter DeBlase was said to have written in jail in which he allegedly confessed to choking his daughter to death in order to spare her from more torture at the hand’s of his common-law wife, Heather Leavell-Keaton.
She too will be tried for the two murders. Her trial is scheduled for April.
Jurors in DeBlase’s trial were subjected to disturbing testimony that recounted various forms of torture the children suffered before they were killed.
In one incident Natalie DeBlase was said to have been bound with duct tape, gagged with a sock and stuffed into a suitcase for 12 hours.
In another incident DeBlase’s son was said to have been duct taped to a broom handle, gagged and forced to stand in a corner while Leavell-Keaton and DeBlase slept.
DeBlase’s defense attorney, Glenn Davidson, said he believed Leavell-Keaton was the one most responsible for the crimes and for that reason DeBlase’s life should be spared. He told the judge he believed some members of the jury likely believed his client was only an accomplice in the murder and that Leavell-Keaton had been the dominant partner in the relationship.
“She had no qualms at displaying a significant amount of hostility toward the children in front of people that she barely knew,” Davidson said. “You should not impose the death sentence in this case, judge. It's not necessary. It's wrong. We ask that you not do it.”
Mobile County District Attorney Ashley Rich disagreed and said she was happy with the judge’s decision.
“What he did to these children, it was horrendous,” Rich said of DeBlase after the hearing. “It was horrific. It was something that the community didn't even want to know could have happened in our community. But it did, and now finally we have justice for those victims, and John DeBlase has got a death sentence.”