OAKLAND -- The life of a convicted triple murderer and animal abuser is now in the hands of a jury that must decide if the death penalty is a morally justified punishment for the murders committed by David Mills.
After more than 11 weeks of trial, including two-weeks of emotional testimony from families of both the victims' and Mills, the jury of six men and six women will have to decide if Mills' crimes outweigh any reasons to keep the Oakland-native alive.
Both Senior Deputy District Attorney Jim Meehan and defense attorneys William DuBois and William Linehan told the jury to think of the choices made in the case.
For Meehan, the important choice for the jury to consider was Mills' decision in 2005 to gun down James Martin, 28, Dale Griffin, 36, and Rebecca Martinez, 22, as they sat in a car in front of Mills' father's home in East Oakland.
The three victims were brutally killed, Meehan said as he flashed photos of their dead blood-soaked bodies, during a systematic ambush that should have also included a fourth victim who survived her gun shots.
Meehan said the jury should also think of the choices Mills, 38, made years before the shooting when he received a second chance from the criminal justice system after he was given an involuntary manslaughter plea deal for a killing that should have been tried as a murder.
"David Mills earned the death penalty," Meehan said. "David Mills not only squandered the second chance,
But DuBois and Linehan asked the jury to think about the choices Mills has made since the murders and the choices the victims made before they were killed.
All the victims involved in the case were drug addicts, evidence in the case revealed, and at least one was a member of a gang, DuBois said. They chose dangerous lives, DuBois said.
While their choice to live as drug users and sellers in a life that frequently risks death does not justify their murders, DuBois said the jury should think about it when they decide if Mills deserves the death penalty.
"It doesn't make it any less tragic but in this case, they suffered death in the hands of the dangerous life they all chose to live," DuBois said as he argued that his client was not some mass murderer hunting down innocent people.
Linehan reminded the jury that even without the death penalty Mills will never be freed from his "concrete box" as he argued that by keeping Mills alive, his client can contribute to society by encouraging his children to remain on the productive path.
All three of Mills' children testified that their father has encouraged and helped them to avoid a life of crime and instead attend college.
"I'm not going to stand here and tell you that these crimes you said were committed by David are horrible, they are," Linehan said. "But he does not get a free pass; he is going to be locked in a cage for the rest of his life."
Meehan, however, said that Mills does not deserve compassion. Mills decided long ago to abandon his children when he murdered three innocent people without giving them the opportunity of a trial, Meehan said.
"How much mercy and compassion did David Mills show," Meehan asked. "David Mills made the decision that his life was more important than theirs. He chose death. David Mills has earned the slow walk through the gate marked condemned row."