Defense Attorneys on O'Kelley Trial - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

11/10/05

Defense Attorneys on O'Kelley Trial

The defense argued against the death penalty. The defense argued against the death penalty.

Dorian O'Kelley was convicted and sentenced to death Tuesday for brutally murdering Susan Pittman and her 13-year-old daughter Kimberly. For more than three years, three Savannah lawyers worked grueling hours to spare O'Kelley's life.

This was a big defeat for them. Their only goal during this trial was to try to convince the jury to sentence O'Kelley to life in prison, not death. They say this case is the toughest they have and will ever be a part of.

Brian Daly, Michael Edwards and Steven Beauvais are O'Kelley's defense team.

"Before this trial and our representation, no one spent as much time caring about Dorian as we did, as sad and pathetic as that sounds," said Daly.

They tried to convince the jury that O'Kelley has serious mental problems, including bipolar disorder, and was a victim of sexual abuse and neglect at the hands of his own parents. "He got dropped through the cracks at many different levels," said Daly. "We just saw a pattern."

They never denied O'Kelley's guilt. Their only goal was to show the jury he didn't deserve to die. "My job is to plead to you for Dorian's life," Edwards told jurors during the trial.

The jury didn't see it that way and sentenced O'Kelley to death for each murder.

"Ultimately, it's very disappointing because our job was to save his life," said Beauvais. "We failed."

Many wonder how someone could defend someone they know is guilty, especially of such a heinous crime like torturing and killing a mother and her daughter. "We firmly believe that every human being is entitled to human dignity," said Edwards. "We hate the sin, we don't hate the sinner."

"If the worst people who commit the worst crimes don't have the right to a fair trial, then that right is meaningless to all of us," Beauvais said.

Daly, Edwards and Beauvais say that doesn't mean they don't feel for the victims, in this case the Pittmans' family.

"They've been through hell," Beauvais said. "I know they have and we can feel for them. I hope they get some solace. I don't know if this process will bring that to them, but I hope they find some solace out there."

This case isn't over. There will be appeals. Their first step is to file a motion for a new trial, which is automatic in Georgia death penalty trials.

Daly, Edwards and Beauvais were very emotionally involved in this trial. They broke down when O'Kelley was sentenced to death.

Coming up on THE News at 11, we'll hear more from the O'Kelley's lawyers about why they decided to admit he was guilty from the start, and if they feel that led to their defeat.

Reported by: Michelle Paynter, mpaynter@wtoc.com

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