The Fairfax County jury trying to decide whether convicted killer Mark E. Lawlor should receive the death penalty or life in prison will begin a third day of deliberations Wednesday in the Fairfax courthouse.
The jury convicted Lawlor, 45, of capital murder on Feb. 22, after Lawlor’s attorneys had conceded that he did fatally bludgeon and rape Genevieve “Gini” Orange, 29, inside her Falls Church-area apartment in September 2008.
DNA evidence linked Lawlor to the slaying, in which prosecutors said Lawlor struck Orange 30 times in the head with a hammer, and 17 more times on her arms and body, before sexually assaulting her as she lay dying.
Following the conviction, Fairfax prosecutors presented about a day of evidence to make their case that Orange’s murder was so vile, and Lawlor so dangerous, that he should be executed. Lawlor was previously convicted of abducting an ex-girlfriend in Great Falls, for which he served five years in prison, and also of crashing a car and killing a friend in the 1980s.
Lawlor’s defense team then presented more than two weeks’ worth of witnesses who testified that Lawlor had a difficult upbringing, with an abusive mother and a pedophile father, but that he has been a relatively compliant prisoner during his years of incarceration. The defense is pleading for a life sentence without parole.
“I ask you, I implore you, I beg of you, choose life,” capital public defender Ed Ungvarsky told the jury in his closing argument Monday. “Mark is more than the worst thing he’s ever done. I ask you to please recognize that.”
Fairfax Commonwealth’s Attorney Raymond F. Morrogh rejected the strategy of blaming Lawlor’s family, and reminded the jury of Orange’s brutal death. She had been sleeping on her couch, and Lawlor entered her apartment with a key because he was the leasing agent at the Prestwick Apartments on Leesburg Pike.
“I listened in vain to the defendant’s case for three weeks,” Morrogh said, “for some evidence of remorse. Blaming others, pretending he didn’t know what happened, these are not the actions of a remorseful person. He’s sorry he got caught.
“There’s a terrible tendency in these trials to forget about the victim,” Morrogh continued. Orange’s birthday was last week, he noted, and her mother “celebrated that birthday by attending her killer’s capital murder trial. In this case, the only fitting punishment is the death sentence.”
The jury deliberated for about 90 minutes on Monday and tabout seven hours on Tuesday. They return Wednesday at 9:30 a.m.