A Nevada man who has spent nearly three decades on death row has spoken to a jury in an attempt to save his own life.
WATCH the statement in the video player above.
John Valerio spoke to jurors for slightly less than seven minutes in what’s called an allocution. An allocution allows a defendant to speak to a jury without being under oath, without being questioned by his own attorneys, and without being cross-examined by the state.
During the allocution, Valerio told jurors that he’s a changed man who cares about others.
Valerio made the statement during a death penalty re-trial. He was convicted in 1988 for murdering a prostitute in 1986. The original guilt phase of his trial stands, so Valerio has remained guilty under the law since his original 1988 trial. However, in a 7-4 ruling, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals overturned Valerio’s original sentence due to vague jury instructions.
That led the State of Nevada to once again present the penalty phase of Valerio’s trial.
The U.S. Supreme Court requires death penalty trials to have separate guilt and penalty phases. The process is known as bifurcation.
Valerio was convicted of stabbing a prostitute 45 times and beating her with a blunt object. Her body was found wrapped in his bed linens in a car in Las Vegas. Her personal effects, blood spatter, and blood stains were in Valerio’s home. Prosecutors say the crime involved torture and mutilation because the victim’s stab wounds were found in constellations of eight wounds each in five different locations — a number prosecutors say could not have been random. The wounds also were cut slowly, prosecutors say, because they were intended to inflict maximum pain.
Jurors at Valerio’s second death penalty trial could choose between life with the possibility of parole after twenty years, life without parole, and sending Valerio back to death row.