HONOLULU (KHNL) -- For the first time in Hawaii, a jury -- not a judge -- is deciding whether a convicted killer should receive a harsher sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Under a new law, the panel is pondering the fate of Patrick Lorenzo, who was found guilty of murdering an off-duty state sheriff.
Patrick lorenzo sits in court, hoping a panel of seven men and five women will have mercy on him. Prosecutors say the 33-year-old should spent the rest of his life locked up.
"Mr. Lorenzo is in fact someone whose extended term of imprisonment is necessary for the protection of the public," Scott Bell, deputy prosecutor, said.
Armed with a gun, he stormed into Osake Sushi Bar and Lounge February 10th. Deputy sheriff Daniel Browne-Sanchez, who worked at the bar part-time, was fatally shot.
The same jury convicted Lorenzo of second-degree murder, which carries a punishment of life with the possibility of parole. But prosecutors say he already had multiple convictions on his record.
"Mr. Lorenzo qualifies as a persistent offender," Bell said.
The defense argues, prior to the murder, Lorenzo committed drug offenses only, not crimes of violence. His lawyer asks jurors to leave the door open for the possibility he could be rehabilitated.
"Having somebody watch over him on a daily basis, a chance to one day see again the light of day. That's your decision here," Walter Rodby, defense attorney, said.
Rodby says, no matter what, his client must serve a minimum of 20 years for using a gun in this case. That would put him in his 50s before he can even think about the possibility of freedom.