Capital punishment seen through the eyes of young people whose lives have been shaped by it. Shawn Ford Jr is on trial and a jury must decide if he should live or die.
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911, where is your emergency?
-Oh, my God.
Sir, calm down.
You don't want to believe it was for real.
That's how horrifying it was.
Just the anger - how can someone have that much hate?
Imagine how much energy it takes for not one...
..but 14 separate blows.
This boy, with that smile...
..why would he do that? I mean, why?
It rips at you. You have somebody's life on your hands.
We serve a god of love.
We also serve a god of justice.
I don't think there's any way to really put a word to it...
what we've lost.
For me personally, it's...
not even so much the big occasions,
like my graduation, my wedding - it's...
you know, the smaller things
that everybody takes for granted with their parents.
It's, you know...
"Oh, I wonder how to fix this, I should call my dad,"
or, "I think my mom would like that, I'm going to e-mail it to her."
We...none of us can do that any more.
Nobody, no matter what age they are,
is ready to really be without their parents,
and so to have that taken away, um, for me, you know,
losing the day-to-day, small things has probably been the worst part.
Even just something like when we go on a trip,
my friend always has to call and let her family know
that she made it safely, and...
just things like knowing
that there's no-one waiting for that call from me now...
..has been the hardest part.
He robbed them of their old age -
of their chance to live to an old age.
So, the idea of him living to be an old man...
just the idea that he might get something that he took from them
is difficult to handle.
To begin the broadcast tonight,
two murders in the small Summit County city of New Franklin.
And we understand the victims are a husband and wife?
Attorney Jeffrey Schobert and his wife Margaret
were found murdered in their home in New Franklin this afternoon.
County investigators just identified the suspect in that case,
and the suspect, we understand, was not a stranger to the Schoberts.
That's right - the suspect, Shawn Ford,
is actually the boyfriend of the Schoberts' daughter Chelsea.
He's an Akron resident, 18 years old.
Police say he used a sledgehammer to kill
the couple in the bedroom of their New Franklin home on April 2nd.
Ten days before that, Akron police believe
he stabbed and beat the couple's daughter -
and his girlfriend - Chelsea Schobert.
Peggy and Jeff were so giving,
and if that's who Chelsea said she was in love with,
and wanted to be with,
they were going to do everything to make that work.
Oh, that's a good picture of him and Chelsea.
You know, that's kind of who they were -
they were very generous people and when they decided to adopt,
they just went about it like they do everything else -
who was in most need?
So, they took Jessica, who was in neo-natal intensive care
as a 27-week preemie,
and Chelsea, whose mother was like...
I think she was 15 - I could be wrong, but I think she was 15.
Jessica - is that when you did your photoshoot
for that lady, the artist?
-Yeah, isn't that adorable?
Chelsea, she didn't know where she fit in.
She really had an issue with the black versus white,
and so tried really hard to hang out with kids of her colour.
So, she did - she connected with a bunch of kids.
How she connected with the likes of Shawn Ford, I'm not sure.
Him and his stepbrothers were there a lot -
they were there for every family function we did.
So, they've been to all of the family homes,
and it's just...that's what makes it even more bizarre, is they were...
they could have been a part of this family.
I didn't know his background, I had no idea about his background.
I didn't know he had 14 counts of juvenile offences against him.
I think... I think I would have been a little different had I known that.
I think I would have had a sit-down with my sister -
but since we didn't know, you know,
kind of left you in the dark.
This boy, with that smile...
And why would he do that? I mean, why?
There were so good to him.
Beautiful. Remember that one?
I do, yeah.
Remember that one, Bobby?
OK, guys, I nominate this for photo of the year...
of Jeff and Peg.
'Thank God Jessica was OK.
'I just thank God she wasn't there too.'
She said the only thing that will ever scare Shawn
is the death penalty,
and she did not want to back down from it.
She felt like her parents deserved that as justice.
We've been involved in jury selection for a couple of weeks now,
and we've pared it down to about 45 folks.
Some jurors walk in and you know they're going to feel it -
they'll think about it, and they're going to make...
they'll do the decision right.
Other jurors, you'll say,
"How do you feel about imposing the death penalty?"
And they'll say, "Well, I couldn't do it right now,
"but if you give me an hour, I could."
You know, they're ready to put the needle in themselves.
So, some people are going to have a real struggle with it,
and some people...
they're not going to have any problem at all,
and go right about their business.
Those are the ones who are dangerous,
and those are the ones that I don't want in this jury.
I mean, if you're going to kill him, at least think about it.
If our client is convicted, and gets life in prison,
he's got one quality of life, and if he...
gets the death penalty, not only will he be executed down the road,
but the time leading up to that will just be...
In a case where there's a good deal of evidence against your client,
where there's a lot of evidence, and there's a likelihood
that you're going to get past that first phase
of, "Is he guilty or not guilty?"
and you're going to be at the second phase of,
"Do we kill him or not kill him?"
you gotta really use your head,
and you can't lose your credibility with the jury.
Thank you, everyone. Please be seated.
We've got to try and humanise Shawn
to the point that jurors can come back and say,
"I recognise that this was brutal, I recognise that,
"but I can put that aside,
"and I can bring back something other than death."
Just by the fact that you've made it this far
tells us all that you are qualified to be jurors in this case.
But we're not just looking for jurors -
we're looking for good jurors.
This case is a very, very serious case.
Two people are dead,
and a young man is literally on trial for his life.
Today is the most important day of Shawn's life,
and you folks are the most important people he's ever going to meet.
So, we're looking for good jurors.
You just sit there, and you just hope it goes through quickly,
and that you're just dismissed
and you can go home and go on with your life.
The court is now going to excuse the following jurors.
Juror number 5, number 15, number 32, number 77...
Once I got to my seat, I said, "I'm going to be on this jury."
I had a good feeling that I was there -
that I was going to be there throughout the whole process
at that point.
It was kind of scary. It was like, "I can't believe this is happening.
"My job is going to kill me!"
I never thought I would be selected.
I really thought I wouldn't be a part of that process -
and I was wrong.
Ladies and gentlemen,
the 12 of you will constitute the jury in this case.
So, if you would all please stand once again
and raise your right hands, I will administer that oath.
All right, do you and each of you swear or affirm
that you will diligently inquire into and carefully deliberate
all matters between the State of Ohio
and the defendant, Shawn E Ford Jr?
Do you swear or affirm that you will do this
to the best of your skill and understanding,
without bias or prejudice?
This you do as you shall answer
under the pains and penalties of perjury.
If so, please signify by saying, "I do."
ALL: I do.
Thank you very much. You may be seated.
You know, who am I to judge?
Would I want my life decided on 12 other people that don't know me?
Don't have a clue about me?
I wanted to see the process, I wanted to see how it worked,
I wanted to see what the crime was,
I wanted to see it all put together.
In my heart of hearts, I was thinking, at that time,
you guys are going to have to have a lot of proof...
in order for me to make a decision
to send someone to the death penalty.
Summit County Court of Common Pleas,
Honourable Judge Parker presiding.
You know, nobody likes the thought of having somebody be put to death,
but you kind of have to separate your feelings from it,
and just look at the facts and the evidence.
Are counsel ready to proceed with opening statements?
-The State is prepared.
-We are, Judge.
Mr Hicks, you may open.
Thank you, Judge.
As you recognise,
this case is about death.
It is about the deaths
of Mr and Mrs Schobert,
and, as you understand, there are specifications
which may ultimately call upon you to consider the death of Shawn Ford.
He is a young fellow from a different culture -
a product of poverty.
A product of family disharmony -
of a mother who became a mother at age 15...
and we ask that you will take a long, encompassing view
of the circumstances which brought about
the events for which we are here.
Mr Gessner and I believe and are confident
at the end of the day we're going to give you
more than enough evidence to agree with us
that Mr Ford is guilty
of the murders of Jeffrey and Margaret Schobert.
The two Schoberts decided to have children,
and they adopted.
They first adopted Jessica Schobert.
Later, they made a second adoption,
which is Chelsea Schobert.
She, through Facebook...
..started chatting with
an individual by the name of Shawn Ford.
When we are done, you are going to be thoroughly convinced
Mr Ford attacked Chelsea Schobert, critically injuring her.
Mr and Mrs Schobert had suspicions
that Shawn was the one who attacked her,
but regardless of whether he did it or not,
they felt that this relationship is not good for Chelsea.
You will hear through the testimony
that he was not allowed to visit her,
and as a result of that, he went to the Schoberts' home
and bludgeoned Mr Schobert to death,
striking him 14 times with a sledgehammer,
waited for Mrs Schobert, hid in the room across the hall,
waiting for her to come in,
and when she wasn't ready,
hit her 19 times...
When Chelsea and my son was dating, I met Mrs Schobert.
Well, she would come and take the kids out to eat,
it was real nice.
My stepson used to talk about them all the time.
All the time, saying how nice they was.
He'd always say I was the mean mommy.
He thought I was the mean mommy, because I fussed at him,
and I told him what's right, you know.
I didn't sugar-coat anything to him.
I loved him.
I think he knew it, but didn't want to believe it all the time,
because, you know, I didn't let him get away with everything.
His head will mess with him, you know, inside, emotionally,
but he won't show it a lot -
but I just know my child. It's going to hurt him.
It's going to hurt him - he has yet to feel it.
And I just hate when he do, cos he's going to be heartbroken.
He's still my child, I love him. I hate what he's involved in...
..but I don't want them to kill my son.
Do you solemnly swear and affirm that the testimony
you will give in this matter will be the truth, the whole
truth and nothing but the truth, so help you God?
-You may take the witness stand, please.
Let me direct your attention
specifically to March 22nd,
23rd of 2013.
Were you involved at all, at that point in time,
in regards to the injuries or assault
that took place against Chelsea Schobert?
-Yes, after she'd already gone to the hospital.
I'm going to show you a photograph,
identified as State's exhibit number 52.
Do you recognise who that is?
Is that the way she looked to you when you went to the hospital?
I'm going to show you what's been previously identified
as State's exhibit number 55 for identification purposes -
do you recognise that photo?
Yes, that's what she looked like at the hospital.
We were there the first nights, and we even got to see her that night.
And it was bad.
It was... I mean, it was really bad.
I don't know if Jeff and Peggy thought, at that point,
it could have been him that attacked her - I don't know.
I think, right then, their whole focus
was to make sure she stayed alive.
As a detective, and maybe more as a person,
were you concerned, at that point in time, about her condition?
-Were you also concerned about her safety?
I would talk to Peggy at least once a day.
She didn't want anyone to discuss anything about Chelsea's attack,
because they were led to believe it was gang related,
because both Chelsea and Shawn had lied about who attacked her.
If Chelsea just would have told the truth,
they would be alive, you know,
but she was afraid of Shawn.
And I think she still loved Shawn, so she didn't want him
to be blamed for it.
Was there some discussion
regarding whether Mr Ford could come visit her,
since he was, at that point in time, not a suspect
and he was, you know, her boyfriend?
I told them I thought it was still best that he shouldn't visit.
Because there were still parts of the story I wasn't clear on.
What is the next thing of significance that
happens in this investigation?
When I go to see Chelsea one day,
security said that Shawn tried to get in to see her.
And they stopped him
and they took the letter that he was trying to leave for her.
Thank you, Your Honour, I have no further questions.
This letter that went up from Shawn to Chelsea.
-Shawn's telling Chelsea how much he loves her.
Even when she is in the hospital,
she is still indicating to you that she is in love with Shawn?
Thank you, Detective.
It was a story that just started out almost like a love story.
And ended up like...
It was a tragedy.
I think he just didn't like having what he wanted blockaded.
He couldn't visit her, he couldn't have her, he loved her,
and those people were the people that were...
keeping him away from her.
And so I think all that anger just built up and up until
he just figured, "I have to get rid of them in order to have her."
DOG BARKS IN DISTANCE
My heart goes out to the Schobert family.
I don't know if they're mad at me...or whatever, I don't know.
But I'm not a monster.
I think about them quite often -
just as much as I think about my own child, I think about them.
I still have moments that I just break down thinking about him...
..thinking about what the decision is going to be.
Ugh, it is just heartbreaking.
Because he is so young.
I think about all of this and I break down all day long.
If this case is like every other capital case, there is going to be
significant testimony, significant evidence,
and they are going to be held up by a medical examiner or a coroner
and the jury is going to hear about devastating injuries.
That is going to be difficult.
Our goal is to hopefully find a way to save this kid's life.
Would you raise your right hand, please?
Do you solemnly swear or affirm that the testimony you give in
this matter will be the truth, the whole truth and nothing
but the truth, so help you God?
-You may take the witness stand.
I'm going to now show you a series of photographs of this room,
including the victims in this case, all right?
-State's exhibit number 79.
Do you recognise that?
That is a photograph of the bedroom outside the doorway.
I'll use State's exhibit number 91 for identification purposes,
what is this?
It's a... It would be the female decedent's hand,
and there was a plastic wrapper on the floor.
State's exhibit number 84 for identification purposes.
In the middle of the bed, there is an item there,
-can you tell us what that was?
No-one with a normal mind can imagine doing such a thing.
You think, "Is this for real? Is this from a movie?
"Did this really happen?"
As you can't fathom,
your brain...my brain can't fathom something like that happening.
Going to show you, I have marked this
State's exhibit number 93 for identification purposes.
Do you recognise that?
Yes, that is a photograph of the interior of the bedroom,
showing both decedents in their positions as they were found.
I don't think I will ever get those pictures out of my head.
I was shocked with the brutality.
On the sledgehammer, it seemed very barbaric. Up close, personal.
What Mr Schobert has
is a cluster of blunt-force injuries.
Mr Schobert's face is caved in...
-..because the bones that support the face,
the bones of the face, are broken.
Would it be fair to say that a significant number
of his facial bones were crushed?
-All of them.
-All of them? Very good.
I really hope that after one blow,
they just weren't aware of anything.
That is just what I kept praying.
-How many were the minimum amount of blows to Mrs Schobert?
-19, that's one-nine?
The head was separated from the spine.
Separating one's head from your spine,
what type of force would be necessary?
I can't give you a number on it,
-but I can say a tremendous amount of force.
You look at the family, and at that point, I was like, "This is..."
.."This guy deserves the death penalty."
# I'm just a rolling stone... #
Now you're saving these guys that you were...
I am... In fairness, I have not defended a capital case.
The difference between John and I is,
I only represent innocent people.
I don't know, when you're a prosecutor,
everything is black and white, isn't it?
-You do one case a year.
-No, I do more than that.
When you're a prosecutor, everything's black and white.
There is a huge difference, because...
I was raised in a young prosecutor's office,
or in a prosecutor's office where... it wasn't all about winning.
It was about doing the right thing.
The Schobert family, those people are there every day, all day,
all of them. There's guys from his firm there, they were loved people.
I mean, you can't say a bad word about them.
But it's hard sitting there and just...
..you know, getting pounded for this part of the trial.
-You knew it going in.
You knew what you had.
As a community, we have become somewhat immune to violence.
But this one hit home
because it happened to people that could be just like us.
And that is the problem on this jury.
Folks can very easily
put themselves in the position of the Schobert family.
I'm going to show you a series of exhibits.
-And what are those?
-These are text messages
and text details.
So let's go through the records of what you found.
This was the type of story, as it continued to unfold,
it just got deeper and deeper, and more shocking and more shocking.
It was the details that made this story so horrific.
April 2nd, 2015 at 5am...Jeffrey Schobert to Margaret Schobert.
"You still at hospital?"
5.09am. "What time you coming home?"
I knew that when the text message was sent to Peg,
that Mr Schobert...had already...
I mean, he was deceased.
"I'm about to go to bed, I been up all night
"but what time you coming?"
To take Jeffrey's phone and pretend to be him,
trying to find out when she is coming home, etc,
it's the type of thing that just gives you chills.
5.25am. "Why do you want to know when I am coming?"
I just thought that...this is sick.
I mean, here he is trying to lure Margaret to come home,
and then waited three-and-a-half hours for her to come home.
-It's very chilling.
-So she goes back home, she steps into that bedroom...
And she probably only knew for a couple seconds that her husband...
what happened to her husband.
And then, after everything was done, the audacity to send
a text message to the daughter to pretend to be the mother?
April 2nd 2013, at 9.14am,
from the phone number associated with Margaret Schobert,
to Chelsea Schobert...
"No matter what... I-M-A always love you.
"I hope Shawn take care of you, I kinda like him now,
"but just know I love you to death."
I have no further questions, thank you.
I mean, he was guilty.
There was no question, going through the texts, they knew he was guilty.
They had no defence, they had no witnesses,
they had nothing to save him. And that just said it all.
When we started to interview Shawn,
he still denied any involvement in it...at first.
He changes his story once we start talking about any
kind of evidence that we would have had from the scene.
By the time the interview was over,
he had said the only one that used the sledgehammer was himself.
She was sitting on a bench all by herself and just sobbing.
Anyone who is a mother knows... How...?
How could you cope with that?
The last thing she needed from us was, um, hate and anger.
She had absolutely no coping skills to deal with a son
who would do something like this.
And, er, I felt sorry... I genuinely ache for them.
So... It's how it is.
-She's a mother.
Members of the jury, thank you for your patience.
You will be permitted to retire to begin your deliberations.
Your duty is confined to the determination of whether
the defendant is guilty or not guilty
of the crimes that have been charged.
You must not be influenced by any consideration
of sympathy or prejudice.
"On the count number one, indictment for aggravated murder...
"we, the jury, find the defendant, Shawn Ford Jr,
"guilty beyond a reasonable doubt of the offence
"of aggravated murder as charged in count number one.
"In count two, we, the jury, find the defendant..."
-A short while ago, Shawn Ford Jr
was whisked away in handcuffs
after having been found guilty on all charges.
All of the parties involved cannot comment on this case
until after sentencing.
Once that sentencing phase begins with a mitigation hearing
early Monday, it is possible that this jury could recommend
the death penalty for Shawn Ford Jr.
It was expected. We knew it was coming.
Hopefully, it took some of the anger out of people.
Now we can go into this next phase and focus on Shawn.
Really, I have just got this thing about how we're going to
do this, and there's a couple jurors here that said things,
some of the African-American jurors,
a couple jurors that said things about a chance of redemption,
"I want him to have a chance of being redeemed."
So I think I want to feed into that a little bit.
'This isn't about the crime any more,
'about whether he did or didn't do it.'
The question is whether or not he's going to get life without parole,
die in prison, or whether the State is going to kill him.
If one juror votes for life, death is off the table.
They are all required then to go back and consider another option.
The jury needs to understand that life in prison means
-life in prison.
-This is Ohio.
If he gets life without parole, he will die in there,
it won't be some legal bullshit that he's walking
out of the door on a technicality in six months.
The idea that there is punishment, and there IS punishment,
-what more punishment can you have as an 18-year-old...
..to be in prison with a bunch of ne'er-do-wells
for the rest of your life?
They're going to victimise him in prison, he's going to be
somebody's girl, and he's going to have a horrible...a horrible life.
We're going to put on people like family members,
things about abuse that was suffered as a kid.
We're going to have experts come up...a psychiatrist come up
that has evaluated our client, and talk about what problems he has had.
Anywhere you want.
'Juries have found mitigation in the strangest places.
'Juries have saved people's life
'because they didn't want to see someone's mother suffer a loss.'
They didn't want to put someone to death
and leave behind a child or a spouse or siblings.
We're looking at trying to help the jury understand,
how is it that a person, a human being, could do this?
If the jury thinks he has been raised right,
had all the breaks, there is no explanation
for why he did what he did. He is just a stone-cold killer.
So we need to put out there he didn't have it so easy.
This kid is a broken kid.
We just need one person, we don't need to convince 12 of them.
Any one of those people can go in there and say,
"You know what? I ain't doing this, I'm not going to kill this boy."
And if one does it, the rest of them can't go past that.
They can't change it, so all we need is one.
I know there are some killers on that jury,
-but there were some people crying...
-Yeah, I saw that.
We've got a lot of women, we've got a lot of blacks, we've got
-one of the better juries you could have on a case like this.
So he's got a chance, he really does.
You come walking into it,
and you kind of know the story of what it's all about.
And you come in and you think, "Gosh, this guy is...
"death, you know, this is an awful story,
"I can't believe somebody could do this."
But then it totally changes.
We hear all the time that folks get 20 years or 30 years and then
they're out in seven or eight years, at least we think we hear that.
Is that true in Ohio?
No, it's not. Under the law today,
they would serve the whole sentence before they would come
and see the parole board for their first parole board hearing.
Life without parole...
they are staying in prison until the end of their stay?
-And there are opportunities for both mental health help in prison...
..as well as religious expression?
-Folks can find salvation in prison.
-It's there if they want to look for it.
-The individual that gets death is going to be executed in Ohio.
The death penalty is not something you're like,
"OK, this is what I want to do."
It's got to be something you have to live with, your decision
is something you have to live with for the rest of your life.
Is it fair to say that individuals
in prison, not on death row, can... they can go to church?
-They can go to classes?
-They have exercise?
-They can have TV?
-They are allowed to see their families?
-They can write letters?
Death row. Is it fair to say that death row
-is limited movement...
-..limited general population...
-..limited access to other people?
It is a very heavy weight.
Because you know that there is a human life...
..that is hanging in the balances, and you...
..tip that scale one way or the other,
based on the law and the evidence.
You and I have met, I believe,
on four occasions to evaluate Shawn, to determine mitigating factors.
What can you indicate about Shawn's early life?
Shawn told me, when I met with him,
that he never really felt loved by his mom.
He never really felt loved by his family.
He had a rough relationship with his stepfather,
and the two of them would get into it physically.
And there is research that shows that kids who are
neglected and abused can come
and later develop disorders or mental illness.
In my opinion, Shawn has something
called antisocial personality disorder.
So somebody with antisocial personality disorder won't be
able to put themselves in someone else's shoes,
won't be able to control their impulses or behaviour
as well as someone who doesn't have this disorder.
Plenty of people don't have an ideal environment and they grow up
and they get along without killing anybody.
I wish I would have heard something from Shawn.
Not a lot of them had sympathy, but I guess I can see why they didn't.
I can see why, and I understood it.
But I did. I will be honest.
So let's talk about the personality disorder.
And that's the one where we talk about having...when people say,
-"He had no conscience."
Malingering is one of the things that is often associated with
people with this disorder.
-And what is malingering?
Basically, outright faking or exaggerating problems
to avoid some kind of responsibility.
-Such as a double homicide?
-Doctor, thank you for your time.
We will now recess for the day.
While you are on break overnight, do not discuss this case with anyone.
Do not discuss...
You have definitely got some seriously compassionate people
on that jury who look at Shawn as a murderer,
but also look at Shawn as a boy.
No matter what you want, out of revenge you want,
out of a crime like this, you, erm...
As a human being, with human feelings and a soul,
you do have to take a step back from handing out a death penalty.
Because it's just not in our nature.
Normal people, it's not in our nature.
To me, it doesn't make sense. Violence begets violence.
The fact that he's so young is a tragedy.
I feel for his family, because whatever happened in his life,
he allowed it to destroy him.
I'll take the stand and testify tomorrow.
I really don't know how I'm...I'm going to feel until I get up there.
And maybe I can get...maybe it's another mother sitting on the jury,
sympathising with me.
Because in the end, the only thing we can do is raise our children.
They go they're own separate way once they get 18.
I just, like I say, there's not a lot I can do,
I am just trying to save his life.
We all know that he's never coming home again, you know.
But I just want to spare his life. I want to be able to go see him.
-..you recognise this young man right here?
-Yes, I do.
That is my son, Shawn.
-OK, do you call him Shawn?
-No, I call him Man-Man.
-You call him Man-Man?
-Yes. M-A-N, M-A-N?
-How long have you called him Man-Man?
-Since the day he was born.
OK. Well, how did that name come about?
When the doctors laid him on my chest,
he was so tiny and cute, I said, "Look here, my little man..."
-And ever since then I called him Man-Man.
-And he's been Man-Man since then?
That is Shawn Sr.
Describe that relationship when it first starts off.
In the beginning it was real... It was lovely.
Then, a couple years later down the line, it changed for the worse.
-How did it get bad?
-He got real controlling and abusive.
Fighting me all the time.
Man-Man, he would try and get on his dad's back and he would be saying,
"Leave my mommy alone."
-How old was Man-Man when that happened?
-I would say about three.
-You had another child.
-Yes, I did.
You had a little girl named Chanteia.
Yes, Chanteia Ford.
-Chanteia, how did she pass?
-Sudden infant death syndrome.
-Did the household change?
-It was like Man-Man stopped talking.
Did you ever come to recognise that he had some emotional problems?
-I didn't see it like that.
-How did you see it?
He was a little bad boy, as we would call him,
who would maybe grow out of all this stuff he was doing.
He was a little bad boy. What's that mean?
You know how little boys always doing something.
That was just how I saw it.
I didn't see any psychological thing, or anything like that.
With some of the difficulties they had with him as a child,
she said, "I just thought he would outgrow it."
What parent doesn't think that?
They think that whatever little idiosyncrasies their kid has,
that they're just going to outgrow it,
and I could totally imagine that.
That was definitely... That was the hardest thing for me.
So it just really contrasted...
a lot with the...
..trial itself - who the Schoberts were and who Shawn Ford was, or is.
It really contrasted, and you saw two different worlds.
What do you want this jury to know about your son before
they make a decision about him?
I don't want you guys to...
to kill my baby.
Do you have any explanation for what happened?
Is there anything you think this jury needs to know
about Shawn or you, anything you want them to know
before they make this most important decision?
I want them to know that, you know,
he went and got involved in a bad situation.
We can't change it.
But I don't think killing him is the answer.
I buried a child 17 years ago. I can't bury another one.
Thank you, Miss Ford.
The State of Ohio...wants you to put this young man to death.
I say we're better than that. I say we can do better than that.
Do you think I didn't feel bad when Mrs Ford got up there
and asked you to save her son's life?
Are you kidding me? There wasn't a dry eye in here.
How odd is it and ironic is it that the reason she's in here
crying for you, begging to you to save her son's life...
is because of what he did? What he did to the Schoberts...
that made her do this.
Something broke this young man. He's a broken kid.
And the prosecutor would have you...
..give up on him. Wash your hands. Kill him.
He would have you kill him.
But we're better than that.
Ladies and gentlemen, this is the aggravated circumstance.
Attempting to kill...
Killing or attempting to kill two or more people.
How much does what they have put in front of you lessen...
I don't know what it is, but we've got a problem
in this country...where we create broken young men.
And when they get to a point where they are so broken,
we wash our hands of them.
And we stick a needle in their arm.
Ladies and gentlemen, I submit to you that we are better than that.
When we actually went to deliberations,
many of us were on the fence.
There where a couple that had already made their mind up,
but most of us were on the fence.
So I don't think there was a lot of tension the first night,
but there was... Definitely the tension got pretty big the next day.
There is pressure. The pressure starts to mount a little bit,
because, um, there's that continual dialogue
and continual conversation of why they have their position
versus why you have your position, and trying to close that gap.
You had those people that,
"I'm not leaving this room unless the death penalty one is signed",
those people wanted death, they just wanted him dead.
I'm surprised that I didn't want him to die. You know?
I thought this was going to be easy, this was going to be an easy one.
Uh-uh, it wasn't at all, far from it.
You just have to think about what happened to the Schoberts.
And all those swings of a sledgehammer, all that calculating,
and all those other things just don't carry that much weight.
I mean, for me, at that point,
it just was obvious that it had to be death.
I remember at one point sitting there thinking,
"What do these ten people see that I don't see?"
Because I am hanging on to the mitigating evidence of this
antisocial personality disorder, that there is mental illness here.
The death penalty is appropriate.
Besides the crime that he committed...
I mean, if he could do that to them, just think, what would be next?
I can't even think of anything more horrifying.
There's a lot of pressure in there.
People thinking that I'm crazy for not wanting him to die.
That was said a lot, like, "What's wrong with you?
"Why wouldn't she want him to die? He took two innocent lives.
"He deserves to have his life taken away from him."
Those were their thoughts.
I just kind of broke down and said,
"Would anybody be offended
"if we all just prayed right now, together?"
We prayed for the Schoberts' family
and we prayed for Shawn's family,
and we prayed for Shawn.
Then we prayed for wisdom, because, you know, it is just such
a big responsibility, and you don't want to do the wrong thing.
Hey, Greg, it's Tom,
I'm just calling to let you know that there is a verdict
coming in and they are going to take it as soon as the family gets here.
It all comes down to this. This is it. It all comes down to this.
-How are you feeling?
Um... Terrified. I'm going to go throw up.
If you think I'm scared, imagine what he's feeling.
Please be seated, everyone.
Ladies and gentlemen of the jury,
would you please provide the verdict forms to my bailiff?
The court has been furnished with two verdict forms,
each of which has been signed in ink by all 12 members of the jury.
The verdict form reads,
"We, the jury, being duly empanelled and sworn,
"do hereby find that the aggravating circumstances that
"the defendant was found guilty of committing DO outweigh
"the mitigating factors presented in this case
"by proof beyond a reasonable doubt.
"We therefore unanimously find that the sentence of death..."
"..should be imposed upon Shawn E Ford Jr."
After we made the final decision for the death penalty,
one of the jurors was like, "I don't want to pray."
And I was OK with it.
-I didn't either.
(I didn't either.)
We had did the right thing, and we knew it.
They were not leaving that room unless the death penalty was signed.
And so, I guess that is why I caved and I knew that they weren't.
Was it the right thing to do? No, I don't think it was, but I did it.
It's something that I have to live with for the rest of my life.
I think I was probably shocked at the verdict,
although I shouldn't have been.
I think I let myself believe in the hope that we had
that we could save Shawn's life at that time.
And when it came back the way it came back,
it knocked me back a good deal.
Right now, I don't want to do this work any more.
I will do this work some more, but right now,
I don't want to do this work any more.
It's sad. Such a sad process to be a part of.
From my perspective, the government taking
the life of one of its citizens is so inherently wrong...
that when I was involved in the process,
I feel like I'm fighting that.
But when the process is over, I just feel dirty, like I'm a part of it.
And, er, I don't like being a part of it.
But someone's got to do it, so we'll keep fighting.
Series telling the story of capital punishment through the eyes of young people whose lives have been shaped by it. With unprecedented access inside prison walls, it discovers what it's like to live with the threat of the death chamber, as well as hearing from victims and their families, and the family of those on death row - some praying for execution, some hoping for a reprieve. Each episode focuses on different aspects of the system - execution, punishment and the complex nature of 'truth'.
In April 2013, 18-year-old Shawn Ford Jr was charged with killing his girlfriend's parents with a sledgehammer. Now he is on trial for his life and a jury of 12 ordinary people must decide whether he should live or die. This film follows the court case from the inside, as both the family of the victims and the defendant struggle to come to terms with such a horrific crime. But it is the jurors who must ultimately decide Shawn's fate. As the details of the shocking murders mount, can an impassioned plea for mercy from Shawn's mother save her son's life?