O'Kelley's Defense Team on Their Toughest Case

Dorian O'Kelley's lawyers are speaking out about their defense strategy. O'Kelley admits killing Susan Pittman and her 13-year-old daughter Kimberly three years ago. His lawyers even opened their case with the admission. The jury convicted him and sentenced him to die.

You don't hear a defense lawyer admit his client is guilty very often. "Mr. O'Kelley is responsible for these crimes, no doubt about it," said defense attorney Brian Daly during the trial.

Why did they do it? "In light of the overwhelming facts, we felt like it was important to establish credibility with the jury," said Michael Edwards, another lawyer on O'Kelley's defense team.

Prosecutors had DNA evidence, blood-stained clothes, fingerprints, even a taped confession from O'Kelley admitting that he killed and tortured Susan and Kimberly Pittman. It was too much for them to deny.

"The consequences are just too great," said Edwards.

They had a much bigger task ahead: trying to save O'Kelley's life. "Our job was to humanize our client to let people know his actions aren't the sum of his being," said attorney Steven Beauvais.

They brought in O'Kelley's younger brothers, who told the jury how O'Kelley basically raised them since their mother often neglected them.

O'Kelley's lawyers also brought in several of his former teachers, social workers and psychiatrists. They testified O'Kelley had severe mental problems, including bipolar disorder.

"Given what they heard in the first two or three days, we needed to make sure they were going to be able to listen to us," said Beauvais. "We feel they listened. They didn't give us the result we wanted."

The news of the death sentence devastated O'Kelley and his attorneys. "I left a part of me in that courtroom Tuesday," said Daly. "This case will always be with me."

They all agreed it's the toughest case they have and will ever be a part of.

All three took the case as public defenders, with Chatham County paying the bill. They say one of the toughest parts about losing the case was telling O'Kelley's little brothers.

Reported by: Michelle Paynter, mpaynter@wtoc.com