Staff and Wire Reports
After deliberating for eight hours, the jury recommended late Friday night that Kevin Underwood be put to death for the murder of Jamie Rose Bolin.
Underwood was convicted of first-degree murder for the killing of 10-year-old Bolin as part of a cannibalistic plot.
"This verdict speaks loudly to the defendant and his actions and I'm satisfied that justice was done for her today," said Greg Mashburn, Cleveland County district attorney.
Jurors had to sort through evidence, two weeks of testimony, and decide a man's fate. Mashburn said she wasn't surprised it took jurors hours to deliberate.
"I wasn't really surprised, but I am relieved that they did see through all the things they heard and made the right decision," he said.
Juror Claudette Brumit said recommending the death penalty was not an easy decision.
"It was terrible," she said. "I'm glad it's over and I'm glad that we came to the end that we did."
Jamie's father, Curtis Bolin, was overcome with emotion after jurors recommended the death penalty.
"I'm still trying to absorb it," said Bolin, an auto mechanic who had raised Jamie by himself since she was an infant.
Mark Chiles, Jamie's uncle, said the family had to endure two weeks of chilling testimony, including a videotaped confession in which Underwood told FBI agents he lured the girl into his apartment, beat her over the head with a cutting board, suffocated her, sexually assaulted her and then tried to cut off her head with a decorative dagger.
Chiles said at times the testimony was so gruesome, family members had to leave the courtroom.
"I don't want all the horrifying details," Chiles said. "It's enough that she's gone. We don't want those images in our head. We want to remember the good times."
Underwood, a former grocery store stocker, told authorities he was fueled by sexual fantasies that involved torturing, raping, killing and eating his victim, although no evidence was presented that he cannibalized the girl's body.
Underwood's attorneys did not dispute that he killed the girl, whose nearly decapitated body was found stuffed in a plastic tub in Underwood's bedroom closet, and jurors took less than an hour to find him guilty.
Underwood, who showed no emotion as the verdict was read, was handcuffed and led from the courtroom while 10 armed deputies stood guard. He is scheduled to be formally sentenced by District Judge Candace Blalock on April 3.