WARE TRIAL: How does sentencing work in a death penalty case?

The Highlights
  • The sentencing phase of the trial began Monday morning.
  • By the end of the trial, the jury will have deliberated three times.
  • Jurors must be unanimous on their decision.

TULSA, Okla. — David Ware has been convicted of all charges, including first-degree murder.

But what happens next?

The sentencing phase of the trial began Monday morning. By the end of the trial, the jury will have deliberated three times. They have already deliberated on guilt versus innocence.

Now, they will discuss sentencing for the non-capital convictions. These charges include:

  • Shooting with Intent to Kill: 20 years to life in prison.
  • Possession of a Firearm After Former Felony Conviction: 2 years to life in prison.
  • Unlawful Possession of a Controlled Drug with Intent to Distribute: 3 years to life in prison.
  • Obstruction (misdemeanor): up to one year in prison.

The jury is expected to have those sentences delivered by Monday evening.

Finally, the jury will deliberate on the third and final phase, the capital murder conviction. Both sides will present more evidence. The defense will present “mitigating factors,” which will include calling witnesses like members of Ware’s family and a neurological expert.

The State will present “aggravating factors,” that they outlined in their Bill of Particulars. Tulsa County District Attorney Steve Kunzweiler will push for the death penalty, claiming that Ware, “knowingly created a great risk of death to more than one person” and that “the murder of Sgt. Craig Johnson was especially heinous, atrocious, or cruel.”

After both sides present their evidence, the jury will again deliberate. They will decide between either life in prison with the chance of parole, life in prison without the chance of parole, or the death penalty.

Jurors must be unanimous on their decision.