Posted by Trina Edwards - email
CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - Hamilton County jurors recommended the death penalty for a man convicted of a triple murder in Over-the Rhine.
The same jury convicted Mark Pickens last week in the murders of Noelle Washington, 19, her 9-month-old son, and a 3-year-old girl she was babysitting.
Pickens then took the stand after opening statements Tuesday morning, insisting that he was not guilty. Not long after he began reading his statement, a tear ran down his face.
"I'm sorry Noelle, Sha'Railyn and Anthony were killed, but I did not do it. I had no reason to," he said. "I would never hurt anybody like that, especially children."
Investigators believe Pickens killed Washington because she had reported to police that he raped her. All three victims were shot execution style.
"I know the families of Noelle, Sha'Railyn and Anthony hate me for this, and if I did it, I would hate myself, too," he said. "I plead, I beg you. Please don't take my life."
Pickens' mother took the stand after her son, and asked the jury to spare her son's life.
But their pleas were not enough. It took the jury about two and a half hours to decide to recommend the death penalty. Family members of the victims seemed satisfied with the decision.
"I can't say what I think about him. I think of him as an animal. A cruel animal," said Sharon Wright, Sha'Railyn Wright's grandmother. "But I can't judge that man. I feel sorry for him too, but it is cruel what he did."
Pickens will be back in court June 4 for formal sentencing. The sentences for the gun and rape charges will also be given at that time.