Jury decides no death penalty for AJ Scott Nelson, convicted murderer

Defendant AJ Scott Nelson, center, listens with his defense attornies Chris Clayhold and Laurie Bender during the opening argument of Assistant Lane County District Attorney David Schwartz. Opening arguments started on Tuesday, April 19, 2016 in the case in which Nelson is being tried on charges of aggravated murder. (Pool photo by Andy Nelson/The Register-Guard)

EUGENE, Ore. - AJ Scott Nelson murdered Celestino Gutierrez in 2012, but the convicted killer shouldn't die for his crime, a jury decided.

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The six man and six woman jury declined to sentence Nelson to death.

The default sentence is life in prison without parole. Nelson will return to court June 2 for formal sentencing.

Nelson is the last of three people convicted in the killing of Gutierrez.

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Security was thick in the courtroom with six Lane Co. sheriff's deputies on duty.

Nelson sat stoically at the defense table.

The jury answered "no" to four key questions, including:

Should Nelson be awarded parole in the case? No.

Should Nelson receive the death penalty? No.

"So if one juror feels as if we didn't prove one of the first two questions or that they don't want to impose a death sentence then it defaults to a true life sentence," prosecutor Chris Parosa said.

"We are satisfied," added prosecutor David Schwartz. "We told the jury in our closing statements that we knew that they had paid great attention to this. It's a very serious decision - and that we would respect their decision, and we do."

"I have absolutely no criticisms to make of those people who spent that much time listening and deciding participating in a process that is so important," said Patty Perlow, the Lane County district attorney.

"We think that the jury did an admirable job," Parosa added. "They spent 4 to 5 weeks reviewing evidence and ultimately came to a decision that reflects the beliefs of our community and so we praise them for their work."

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