Tampa, FL -- It took the jury about two hours to determine the fate of a Tampa man who killed an infant by throwing the baby from a moving car along a Tampa interstate in 2009.
Richard McTear faced the death penalty, but on Tuesday, the jury decided to spare his life and recommended a life sentence without the possibility of parole.
During the second day of his sentencing hearing, McTear's defense lawyers called several witnesses, hoping to persuade jurors to spare their client's life.
With McTear's life literally on the line, his lawyers called doctors, relatives, clergy, and friends, all testifying on behalf of the 26-year-old.
"Yes, I had all the faith and confidence he was walking a path of serving the Lord," said Pastor Jesse Washington Jr.
McTear was convicted of throwing his girlfriend's son, 3-month-old Emmanuel Murray, out of a moving car along Interstate 275 in a jealous rage, killing the child.
The defense also tried to convince the jury that McTear was himself a victim of abuse.
"I couldn't give him guidance," said Jackline Patton, McTear's mother.
Patton, who was in and out of prison and hooked on drugs during much of McTear's childhood, blamed herself for many of McTear's problems. She admitted that once, in anger, she even tried to kill him.
"He was trying to run away and I grabbed him from behind, and I just put the knife up to him from behind," she said crying.
"She acted like she hated him," said McTear's grandmother, Willie Patton.
She told jurors she raised McTear off-and-on for half of his young life, and testified there was a time with her when he was a child, that McTear was well-behaved, well dressed, well-disciplined.
But years of abuse and bad influence from those around him, she said, changed him.
"I said, 'Y'all been neglecting this child from day one,'" she testified.
But in his years behind bars awaiting trial -- in a far-more controlled prison environment -- McTear's jailhouse pastor said he found McTear a different man, whose life still has value.
"In this life, if allowed to be in prison, can he work in this life, actively toward redemption?" asked McTear's defense lawyer.
"Oh yes, definitely," said the Rev. Joe Johnson with the jailhouse ministry Pastors on Patrol, "because he's been redeemed."
Previous coverage of the Richard McTear case:
- Man accused of throwing baby from car arrested
- Watch: Angry judge yells at Richard McTear
- Mom of thrown infant: State didn't do enough
- "It's a dirty game" - What does it mean?
- 500 pages of info released in I-275 baby toss case
- Mom of baby thrown from car sues DCF, Sheriff's Office
- Richard McTear found not guilty in battery trial
- Trial opens for man accused of throwing baby from car