This week, Terry Lenamon was interviewed by Ana M. Valdes of the Palm Beach Post for his expert opinion as a death-qualified criminal defense attorney regarding the Jorge and Carmen Barahona murder trial, now that the prosecution has announced that it will be seeking the death penalty.
In an article entitled, "Barahonas to face death penalty on charges of murdering adopted daughter; trial set for July," Lenamon discussed his views on what the focus of the defense team must be at this juncture, when the case has received such national media coverage and where the investigation has already revealed so much since 10-year-old Nubia’s body was discovered, decomposing, in a garbage bag on February 14, 2011.
The defense will have hard facts to face regarding the guilt phase, since the child’s body was found in the back of Jorge Barahona’s pickup truck on IH 95 – among other things revealed during these few short weeks of investigation. As Terry explained to the Palm Beach Post reporter, it is his opinion that the defense focus will be on mitigation: fighting against the death penalty itself.
What could those mitigating factors be? For one thing, mental illness probably will be a mitigating issue. Jorge Barahona is already being considered as mentally unstable by his jailers, wearing special garb to identify him as being mentally ill when he appeared in court for the arraignment.
Trial is scheduled to begin in July 2011 before Miami-Dade Circuit Court Judge Sarah Zabel of the Eleventh Judicial Circuit of Florida, who along with Terry graduated from the Nova University School of Law (Judge Zabel is a 1993 graduate). Judge Zabel has presided as a Florida Circuit Court Judge since 2003.
Expect the defense to ask for that trial date to be extended. Death penalty defense argubably will need much more than a couple of months to get ready for this case.