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Jury recommends death for former Jabil Circuit executive in double murder

With the jury away Thursday deliberating Patrick Evans’ sentence, Shelby Weingarten, left, mother of murder victim Elizabeth K. Evans, and alternate juror Mary Monahan talk in Judge Richard Luce’s courtroom in the Pinellas Criminal Court Complex.

CHERIE DIEZ | Times

With the jury away Thursday deliberating Patrick Evans’ sentence, Shelby Weingarten, left, mother of murder victim Elizabeth K. Evans, and alternate juror Mary Monahan talk in Judge Richard Luce’s courtroom in the Pinellas Criminal Court Complex.

LARGO — The same jury that found Patrick A. Evans guilty of two murders recommended Thursday that he be executed.

It is now up to Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Judge Richard Luce to decide whether to impose the death penalty. Luce scheduled another hearing Feb. 20, during which he could hear additional testimony.

Evans, 44, was convicted Wednesday of first-degree murder for shooting his estranged wife, Elizabeth K. Evans, 44, and her friend Jerry B. Taylor, 43, on Dec. 20, 2008.

A former Jabil Circuit vice president, Patrick "Rick" Evans was in the midst of a divorce from his wife when prosecutors say he went to her Gulfport condominium, found her and Taylor in a bedroom, then shot both in the neck using a .40-caliber Glock.

It took the jury a little more than an hour to arrive at its recommendation for sentencing for Evans, who once lived in a waterfront Pass-a-Grille home in St. Pete Beach and traveled for corporate business to China, Hong Kong and Singapore.

Jurors voted 9-3 in favor of the death penalty in the murder of Elizabeth Evans and 8-4 in favor of the death penalty in the murder of Taylor.

While prosecutors said the circumstances of Evans' crimes — killing two people while burglarizing a home — merit death by lethal injection, the defense argued there are more reasons why Evans should live.

Defense attorney David Parry asked Evans' mother and two brothers to describe the man they know.

He was the oldest of three boys, they said, an overachiever who, despite his busy work schedule, went out of his way to be there when his family needed him.

Rodney Evans, 41, credited his brother with saving his life as he struggled with his own health and addiction issues. He said Evans gave to charity and did what he could to provide for others: "There's been so many things he has done that it's really a loss to society that he's no longer going to be in this."

Marci Evans broke down in tears as she described her relationship with her son and the pressures he was under as he rose through the ranks as an executive with Jabil Circuit.

"He always had and has a heart of gold," she said.

"I think as compassionate people and as civilized people, we have to stop and think. We have a choice and we're educated and the law allows it. You don't take a life. You just don't do it. And I beg you not to do that."

Families of both victims listened and watched quietly.

When Assistant State Attorney William Loughery stood to make his case for death, he reminded jurors of their two murder convictions.

State law requires jurors to consider whether any "aggravating circumstances" exist that would merit the death penalty. One aggravating circumstance, Loughery argued, is whether the defendant was "previously convicted of another capital felony."

Since Evans was convicted of killing two people, he said, that criteria was clearly met.

"Just a moment ago," Loughery reminded the jury, "Mrs. Evans said, 'You just don't take a life. You just don't do it.' Well, Rick Evans did that. He took two lives. Not just one. Two lives."

Evans remained outwardly calm and showed little emotion throughout the hearing. His brothers and mother sat two rows behind him. As the prosecution presented its case for death, Glenn Evans wrapped his arm around their mother.

The jury's recommendation drew to a close a trial that lasted eight days and included a key piece of evidence: a recording of the killing captured by an accidental 911 call.

In it, Elizabeth Evans can be heard calling out her husband's nickname, "Rick," as the killer instructs Taylor and Evans to sit on the bed. Jerry Taylor tells the gunman to put down the weapon, but soon after, gunfire rings out.

"Help!" Elizabeth Evans can be heard yelling.

Then, another gunshot sounds.

On Thursday, after the jury issued its recommended sentence, Luce thanked them, telling them he is required by law to give their decision "great weight."

Luce asked the two sides to reconvene in February, at which point he will likely hear more testimony to weigh in his ultimate decision whether to impose the death penalty.

Times staff writer Curtis Krueger contributed to this report. Rebecca Catalanello can be reached at rcatalanello@sptimes.com or (727) 893-8707.

Jury recommends death for former Jabil Circuit executive in double murder 11/10/11 [Last modified: Thursday, November 10, 2011 10:53pm]
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