UPDATE: Triple murderer sentenced

Mark Pickens makes a statement during his sentencing hearing Thursday
Mark Pickens makes a statement during his sentencing hearing Thursday

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - A Hamilton County judge handed down the death penalty to a man who killed his ex-girlfriend and two children.

Mark Pickens, 20, was convicted of killing 19-year old Noelle Washington, her son, nine-month old Anthony Jones III, and 3-year old Sha'Railyn Wright, a little girl she was babysitting. All three victims were shot in the head at point-blank range last summer in the Pendleton neighborhood of Over the Rhine.

The jury recommended Pickens receive the death penalty. Judge Steve Martin agreed, and sentenced Pickens to death. As he announced his sentence, Pickens hung his head.

During the sentencing hearing Thursday morning, Pickens told Judge Martin he was innocent. His attorneys argued that there were no credible witnesses and the fact that the jury deliberated for 17 hours shows they had questions about the case. They also said Pickens cooperated with police, so his life should be spared.

Family members of the victims said they were relieved.

"He got exactly what he deserves and I hope he suffers every day," said Noelle Washington's mother. "He needs to see what he did to not just my family, but everybody's family."

Investigators believe the motive for the murders was that Washington had told police that Pickens raped her, and he didn't want to go to prison for that crime.

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