SPARTANABURG, S.C. -- A Spartanburg County jury has given a death penalty to a Chesnee man convicted of shooting and killing an 8-year-old girl nearly five years ago.
The jury deliberated about five hours before returning the death sentence Sunday for 55-year-old Ricky Lee Blackwell Sr. in the death of Brooke Center.
The same jury had convicted Blackwell after just 20 minutes of deliberation.
Prosecutors say Blackwell shot her four times as his former wife watched. The girl was the daughter of Blackwell's estranged wife's boyfriend.
Defense attorney Bill McGuire told jurors that Blackwell was a "tender, gentle, good person." He asked jurors to consider whether six seconds of Blackwell's life overrode the rest of his life.
The conviction and death sentence are automatically appealed to the South Carolina Supreme Court.
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