Dale Barrett served for the last several days as a juror in the Bryan Martin murder trial. The trial for Calvin McMillan(above, left)ended last week with a verdict of guilty on both charges against him. The sentencing portion of the trial began on Monday and after a few hours of deliberation, the jury recommended a sentence of life without the possibility of parole. Needless to say, because of the especially brutal nature of this particular crime there has been a bit of an uproar over the lack of the death penalty being imposed in this case. Here is Dale’s account of how the jury came to this rather unpopular conclusion of the sentencing phase of this trial.
By: Dale Barrett
Let me begin by saying this is the first time I have ever been a part of the judicial system, at least in this area. The DA’s office did an outstanding job on presenting everything one would ever need to convict someone in a case like this. The defense attorneys were very professional and didn’t attempt to take anything away from the tragedy that this case revolved around. This jury was composed of twelve reasonable, fair-minded people. The prosecution answered any and all questions that were asked and showed a mountain of evidence which was enough to convict this thug of both crimes that he was charged with. It only took an hour and a half to unanimously vote guilty on both charges.
On Monday, the penalty phase of this trial opened and again was handled very well on both sides. Still, all the evidence was there that one would need to sentence Calvin McMillan to death. It was a cold-blooded intentional murder of a man that had simply stopped to get diapers and wipes to take care of his family. Calvin McMillan lurked in the parking lot for almost 40 minutes before Bryan Martin went in and then exited Wal-Mart with his purchases. He approached Martin and shot him three times before getting into the truck and putting it into drive. He then put it back into park and got out, bent over the near lifeless body of Bryan Martin and fired a fourth shot to “make sure” he was dead, then sped away to Montgomery.
Once arrested, his alibi was built upon nothing but lies that he was caught in time and time again. He was smarter than he was given credit for by his defense which argued that he was just above mild mental retardation. They went through his whole childhood of being born to a crack-addicted, alcoholic mother. He and his sisters lived a life that nobody should ever have to suffer through; abandonment, hunger and abuse among many other things. His mother’s boyfriend regularly beat all three of them with anything that he could get his hands on during his fits of rage. They rarely had running water, electricity, or any food. I agree that this was indeed an awful childhood.
They finally were removed from that home and lived with their aunt who took care of them on and off until a divorce in her life forced her to put them into foster care. His sisters did fine with this and turned out fine. They have murdered no one. Calvin, however, went through 20-25 different placements with foster parents, depending on how you count them. He had numerous opportunities to take advantage of the counseling that the defense stated he needed so desperately. Contrary to whatever you may hear from various sources, he, in one way or another, turned them all away.
In the end, he was in the last program that DHR placed him in and while there he assaulted another student and eventually emancipated himself out of this program. For that altercation, he was charged with assault. This was EIGHT months prior to the murder of Bryan Martin. He was evaluated by several doctors through his time in and out of state run programs and NONE of these doctors noted anywhere that he had any mental disorder that would render him not responsible for his actions. The doctor that the defense relied on most even put it in writing that Calvin does not have any problem judging right from wrong and doesn’t need any medications to control his actions/aggressiveness. I think that spoke volumes for the prosecution’s argument and should have done the same in the minds of all of the jurors. Obviously it didn’t.
We deliberated most of the morning and all afternoon until about 3:00 p.m. I was asked to pray that we all make the right decision and that most importantly, God’s will be done. Our first two votes weren’t enough to make a recommendation either way. The third however has been well covered by now through all of the local media outlets. I, along with three other ladies, voted for the death penalty to be the appropriate sentence. The defense had proven nothing new but insisted that he can’t be held fully responsible for his actions due to the way he was raised. Eight of the jurors bought this argument hook, line, and sinker, and the rest is history.
I was absolutely disgusted that this thug that took Bryan Martin’s life was going to get to sit in prison and do exactly the same thing that he has done his entire life…live off the taxpayer. Some of those dollars will come from the very family that this has affected the most, the Martin family. I will be able to rest at night knowing that I did my part to have this criminal penalized in a fair and just way. One day, hopefully, people will again believe that a person should be held responsible for their actions and be punished appropriately for the crimes they commit.
Dale, Well written… I could not agree with you more.
Thank you, Dale, for writing this and for standing by your convictions in your vote on the sentencing. I agree with you 100%.Nancy
I am glad someone else was raised the way I was. Kill the killer. Don't make us pay to keep you alive. Our prisons and jails are already overcrowded. What good does he have to offer the world? Nothing.
I agree also Dale, he should have gotten the death penalty. I just wish that the death penalty meant death. So many are on "death row" for 20 years or more. We still feed, clothe and house them, until their appeals run out. It's not like the time when you were hung in X amount of days.Genie Webber
Looks like I'll be the first to disagree with Dale on this one. First off the entire jury prayed that " we all make the right decision and that most importantly, God’s will be done." Let me reemphasize that last point, that ultimately over what everyone on the jury wanted, that what God wanted to be done would be done. It would appear as if God did not want death for this man. It appears that God may have bigger and better things planned for this man. Kill the killer is definitely contradictory to the teachings of Christ. "An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth" is Old Testament news. We are under a new covenant now that says that we are to "love our enemies" and "bless those who persecute you." I think we overlook the fact that Jesus meant what he said, literally.
Your point is certainly worth discussing but PLEASE put your name on your posts. I don't really want to delete it and I figure you just forgot to put your name on it. I'll be waiting.
I agree. This guy is proven guilty beyond any reasonable doubt. Just think of how much it will cost the taxpayers to take care of this young monster for the rest of his life! He should be put to death. He does not deserve to live. Furthermore, what kind of deterrent is this to someone that may consider committing a similar atrocity in the future.
HE WOULDNT HAVE LIVED LONG A FEW DECADES AGO, THATS HOW IT NEEDS TO BE NOW
Ok so I didn't forget to put my name..i just figured I would be the only one to think that. And from the looks of it, it seems like it..o well.
Before I begin, for the sake of full disclosure, consider these points before considering my position.1. Dale is my brother, and I'm proud of his convictions.2. Thad is my uncle, and I'm reluctantly admitting that I occasionally read his blog.3. I am a bleeding-heart conservative, Gospel-preaching preacher, who loves the Bible (both Testaments), God, and the Son of God – my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.Now, here's my position on capital punishment, based on the teachings of Jesus Christ and the Apostle Paul, both of whom made news in the New Testament.Jesus issued a fairly radical call to civil obedience in Matthew 22:21. The immediate context of this teaching was related to taxes, but the general point is that it is right to give the government what is due the government. Years later, when Paul wrote to the church in Rome, he used this same idea to address the role of government in the sovereign plan of God. All of chapter 13 should be required reading, but here I'll just ask you to read verse 4. The government of the State of Alabama is a servant of God and it has been granted the authority to use the "sword" to punish those who commit the most heinous crimes. You don't spank of fine people with a sword, you put people to death with the sword. The sword is a symbol of death, and God has ordained civil government to bear the sword to issue final punishment by putting evil-doers to death.Part of the ministry of God in government for the good of man is to make evil-doers fear the sword. Let the condemned have their appeals and due process, but at the end of the day, society is served greatly when the government serves God as the avenger (not revenger)of those who have been wronged. As unpleasant as it may seem, the use of the sword serves as one of the foundations of a safe, civilized society where human life is sanctified.Paul believed what he wrote. There was a time in his life when he was brought before the governor to defend himself against criminal accusations. In Acts 25:11, Paul was "walking the walk" as we would say. He acknowledged that the government had the right to put him to death if he in fact had committed a capital offense (he had not). This is not a strange position for a Christian to take. I have read many accounts of condemned prisoners coming to a relationship with Jesus Christ, and acknowledging the justice in their death sentence. One popular account is found in Luke 23:39-43.And back to Christ, we can find an instance where He affirmed the right of the government to use the sword. When Jesus was arrested, Matthew 26:51-52 records that Peter took out his sword and cut off the ear of one of the guys who had come to take Jesus. The Lord admonished Peter to put his sword away, saying, "All who take up the sword will perish by the sword." Jesus was telling Peter that if he took a life, he would be put to death, because that was the law. Jesus was affirming the right of the government to use the sword, and warning Peter against being a vigilante.As to "anonymous's" assertion that God's will was done, who is to say. I wouldn't pretend to know the mind of God on this exact case or the hearts of those who earnestly prayed for His perfect will to be done. Sometimes people pray amiss, sometimes they get it right. I don't know what God has for Calvin McMillan, but I pray it is salvation. But this I do know, and it's not just "Old Testament news," I do know that God still uses the government to put evil-doers to death and I am thankful that He does.BY: Jason Glenn of Upton, KY, formerly of Slapout, AL and several points in between.
Thank you Mr. Glenn. That was an excellent explanation. I have ALWAYS been for coporal punishment, but you showed that it is also God's will. Thank you again.Mandy Cook, Deatsville, Alabama
i guess what i can't settle in my mind and in my heart is how to be passionate about the right to life for the unborn and, at the same time, passionate about putting someone to death for their actions. i can find no way to excuse or justify the actions of a killer. however, i can also find no way to justify killing a killer. our system is flawed in more ways that i can list. i work for a very prominant criminal defense attorney in montgomery (and no thad, she's not a goober like julian mcphillips). when i started working for her, it was out of necessecity for a paycheck. she stuck her neck out for me because i was a single mom without a degree and she believed and saw the best in me. for that, i'm forever grateful. in my first few weeks of dealing with inmates and clients awaiting trials and sentencings, i wasn't sure i'd be able to sleep at night after spending my days helping these people who had been charged and found guilty of their heinous crimes- child molestation, child pornography, drug trafficking, and murder. the longer i've worked for her, the more compassionate i have become for these people. not for their crimes, but for their hearts and their needs and their rights and their parents and their children and their spouses. the fact is, the crimes they committed affect a whole circle of people- certainly including the victim and their family and friends. but to me, the bottom line has become this- we live in a nation where everyone has the right to a fair trial and fair representation. yes, the man who murdered bryan martin received a fair trial. yes, he was found guilty. yes, he should pay for what he did. but with another murder? killing a killer is taking a guilty life. killing an unborn baby is taking an innocent life. but a life is a life. tax payer dollars…i pay them just like you do. and i grimace when i pay them just like you do. do i like the idea of paying for prisoners to eat three square meals a day and have tv and recreation and internet access? no. i loathe the idea. but it is part of our flawed system. but as much as i loathe seeing that money come out of my paycheck every week, i just can't, in my search for what is right and good and just and loving (God did say the two greatest commandments were to love God and to love others), believe that taking a life and calling it justice for a life being taken is right. or good. or just. or loving.
I agree with kellyd on this one. When I read the Beatitudes, and really the entire Sermon on the Mount for that matter, I cannot see capital punishment as being a form of justice that coincides with the teachings of Jesus. When Jesus died for our sins, he died for everyone sins. He died for all sins. Jesus was codemned to one of the worst forms of capital punishments ever created for this man over 2000 years ago. Killing someone for their sins is redundant in nature with regards to that fact. It would make it seem as if we do not think that Christ's deeath for his crime was enough to atone for it. And when do you decide what crime is worthy of capital punishment? I believe we have all committed murder in our hearts at one time or another in regards to Jesus' teaching in Matthew 5:21-22. If being angry with a brother is the same as committing a physical murder, and all sins are equal in the eyes of God, do you not think that if God was behind capital punishment that He would also want retribution in the form of death for anger? Or for any sin for that matter? The hierarchy of sinful acts was created by man and not God. God will judge us all for our sins on Judgement Day and not a day sooner. Why would He want to end a person's chance to repent from their sins and live a life of love for God? I don't think we, as humans, are in a position to judge whether a person is worthy enough to retain their life. God is the giver of life. Only He should decide when it is taken away.Jesus taught a message of peace, love, and non-violence. I honestly cannot read Matthew 5 and believe that capital punishment is supported by my God and Savior.
Nice "get" for a local blog, carrying comments from a juror on one of the bigger local trials in recent memory; congrats on that. I thought the jury's hardest job was deciding the sentence; physical evidence made the guilt issue pretty plain to see. But the testimony by McMillan's family members painted a dark portrait of a violent, awful childhood. He'd known nothing but abuse and neglect all his life. This excuses nothing, of course, but as a mitigating factor, it seems sufficient to keep the needle out of McMillan's arm. And the district attorney has told me on other cases that a life sentence if less painful on the family long-term, because the convicted is less fervent in the appeals process, and doesn't drag the family back into tragedy as many times. In our system, the death penalty is just a quasi-life sentence with dozens of appeals and — ideally — a sudden stop at the end.
mr. bitterness…thanks! Excellent points. Never really thought of it in that respect.