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Judge scolds jury on reduced verdict for Jeffrey Scott; victim's family not satisfied
Memphis Commercial Appeal ^ | 2/20/9 | Lawrence Buser

Posted on 02/20/2009 12:25:12 PM PST by SmithL

Unsettled closure: Judge scolds jury on reduced verdict for Jeffrey Scott; victim's family not satisfied

Second-degree murder conviction, 25-year sentence draw emotional reactions

It was a case that can -- and did -- make a grown man cry.

Jimmy Wayne Pittman wanted a life sentence for Jeffrey Scott, the man who beat to death the daughter he adopted as a small child in Bossier City, La.

"This is the worst thing that has ever happened to me, physically and mentally," said Pittman as tears rolled down his cheeks and into his white beard.

"This is always going to be hard. I loved that little girl. If she had died of natural causes I could deal with that. ... He called 911 like he was ordering breakfast."

A life sentence was not possible for second-degree murder, but Criminal Court Judge James Lammey Jr. sentenced Scott on Thursday to the maximum of 25 years with no parole.

The judge also criticized the jury for not convicting Scott of first-degree murder.

The killing of Ashley Scott, a 28-year-old teacher at Bolton High School, was notable not only for the reaction at the school -- more than 900 students, teachers and friends held a memorial service for her -- but also for the disturbing nature of the case.

She was severely beaten by her husband in the early-morning hours of Thanksgiving Day 2006 in their Cordova home, yet he did not seek medical attention for her for some 13 hours.

His voice was matter-of-fact and dispassionate when he called 911 at the insistence of a friend.

"Sometime in the morning hours he could have called for help, and he didn't," said Lammey. "He knew he had just committed an atrocity. He knew his wife was still breathing. And yet he did nothing.

"In my opinion, there was proof of murder in the first-degree. I think the jury gave Mr. Scott an unbelievable break. This was a violent and atrocious crime."

The couple met at Ouachita Baptist University in Arkansas and had been in a five-year marriage troubled by heavy drinking and affairs on both sides, according to testimony in the trial last month.

There also was physical abuse, with Ashley often trying to hide bruises with heavy makeup and long-sleeve shirts, witnesses said.

"We've lost her and it's not fair," her sister, Kecia Vekovius, told the judge. "I can't see why anyone would want to lay a hand on her."

Jeffrey Scott, 32, a computer technician who worked for his father's information technology company, read a statement in court saying alcohol, infidelity and jealousy "played a major role" in the case.

He said he and his wife were working to put that behind them and that they were trying to start a family and had a contract on a new home.

"I am sorry for the hurt you are feeling," he told his wife's family. "I am grieving for her loss and I pray for her soul."

His father, Ray Scott, said he loved Ashley like a daughter and that his son still has her picture in his bedroom. He said he did not know about the problems in the marriage.

"I love him unconditionally," Ray Scott testified. "If I could take his place I would. Every moment of his life he thinks about what happened."

Fellow teacher Paul Dooley told the judge Ashley Scott was a dedicated and talented teacher who, for many, was the only reason to roll out of bed in the morning and go to English class.

"Ashley could read the phone book to a class and they would be enthralled," Dooley said. "She was a natural as a teacher. ... School was the one place she knew she could go where she was safe and loved. It was the one place Jeffrey Scott could not get to her."

Scott's motion for a new trial is set to be heard March 20.


TOPICS: Local News
KEYWORDS: cheating; domesticviolence; infidelity; judicialmisconduct; justicedenied; memphis; murder

1 posted on 02/20/2009 12:25:12 PM PST by SmithL
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To: SmithL
Sad story but a very poor article about it. There was no information about what constitutes first and second degree murder in Tennessee or any information on why the jury may have picked second instead of first? Maybe this was one of a set of articles, so this one provided the human interest part rather than the facts of the case, in which case I could excuse it. If it was the only article about the trial it just has a huge gap in it.
2 posted on 02/20/2009 12:32:11 PM PST by KarlInOhio (On 9/11 Israel mourned with us while the Palestinians danced in the streets. Who should we support?)
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To: SmithL

Okay.

Give him his new trial and THEN convict him of 1st Degree murder.


3 posted on 02/20/2009 12:32:55 PM PST by WayneS (Respect the 2nd Amendment; Repeal the 16th)
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To: WayneS

It’s called double jeopardy.


4 posted on 02/20/2009 12:34:54 PM PST by WheresMyBailout
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To: WayneS

Never mind, I see what legal theory you’re trying to use.


5 posted on 02/20/2009 12:36:04 PM PST by WheresMyBailout
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To: WheresMyBailout

Yes. HE (the defendant) is asking, nay DEMANDING, a re-trial.

Truth be told, if he was a smart lad, he would shut up and accept 2nd degree murder.


6 posted on 02/20/2009 12:41:09 PM PST by WayneS (Respect the 2nd Amendment; Repeal the 16th)
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To: SmithL

Since when do judges have the right to criticize a jury? Like it or not 12 people reached a decision and that’s how it is.


7 posted on 02/20/2009 1:54:38 PM PST by Farmer Dean (168 grains of instant conflict resolution)
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