Jeremy Armstrong released the following statement following his testimony at today’s hearing. Lockhart’s new defense team is trying to get him off death row for the kidnapping and murder of 18-year-old Lauren Burk. The defense team claims Armstrong and his team provided inadequate counsel during Lockhart’s 2010 trial.
“After the testimony today from myself and attorney Sirena Saunders, it was made clear the defense team provided effective legal representation of Mr. Lockhart. The evidence of Mr. Lockhart’s guilt was overwhelming and the defense team’s legal strategy focused primarily on saving Mr. Lockhart’s life from a recommended death sentence by the jury. The defense team was very successful in this regard evidenced by a 12-0 Life Without Parole recommendation by a Lee County jury.
Unfortunately, Judge Jacob Walker overrode the unanimous Life Without Parole jury recommendation by considering other crimes Mr. Lockhart allegedly committed which the defense team was successful from being heard and considered by the jury. As I maintained from the date Judge Walker overrode the unanimous Life Without Parole jury verdict, my concern has not been the lack of mitigation evidence presented to the jury or Judge Walker. My concern has always been Judge Walker’s use of Mr. Lockhart’s statements regarding other uncharged crimes to support his judicial override, which were not subject to suppression arguments and cross-examination. I firmly believe when this particular issue is properly raised in the federal courts at the appropriate time, the United States Supreme Court will ultimately determine if Judge Walker’ override was constitutional.
Again, I wish to express my sympathy to the Burk family from what I know must be considered a “revictimization” by this legal process. However, when the death penalty is imposed, this process involves multiple appeals to ensure a defendant received a fair and impartial trial; and the process was constitutional.”
Jeremy W. Armstrong, Attorney at Law
ARMSTRONG JUSTICE LEAGUE, P.C.