Shareef sentencing decision turned over to jury

CUMBERLAND COUNTY A judge had to go over his final instruction to the jury, twice on Monday. They have to decide if 31 mitigating circumstances outweigh one aggravating circumstance. They also have to - for the second time - grapple with the issue of Shareef's mental state.

For nearly two hours, lawyers and prosecutors tugged on jurors' heart-strings asking for justice and mercy.

"Abdullah Shareef isn't just mean, he is mentally ill, surely we don't not believe in killing people who are mentally ill," Defense Attorney Carl Ivarsson said.

"You know the death penalty is appropriate punishment for what he did to those victims and their families, and Lionel Bass," Prosecutor Cal Colyer said.

Bass was killed and four others injured during Shareef's 40 mile-long road rage rampage in April 2004.

Shareef claimed he was insane at the time, but last week jurors found him guilty of capital murder and attempted murder.

Monday, Shareef showed no emotion as his lawyers showed jurors pictures and letters from his family and begged the jury to spare his life.

"Life without parole means life without parole, he won't get out he will never be paroled he will spend the rest of his life in prison forever," Ivarsson said.

The faces of Shareef's family, along with his victims and their relatives showed strain and emotion, as prosecutors told jurors that the victims and their families need closure, mercy and justice.

"We know you are not going to show him, the same degree of mercy he showed his victims," Colyer said.

Jurors spent 12 hours deliberating Shareef's guilt, but there is no indication how long sentencing deliberations will last.

Monday evening, jurors told the judge they could not reach an unanimous decision. The jury will continue deliberations Tuesday.

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