On September 8, 2023, 45-year-old Ian McCarthy was sentenced to life in prison without parole by Missouri Circuit Court Judge Marco A. Roldan for killing Clinton Police Officer Gary Lee Michael, Jr. The sentencing decision was made by the judge after the jury could not unanimously agree on a sentence of life or death.
In 2017, Officer Michael pulled over Mr. McCarthy for a routine traffic stop. Mr. McCarthy left his vehicle and fatally shot the officer with a rifle. He fled the scene in his SUV and crashed his vehicle before fleeing on foot.
At trial, the jury returned a guilty verdict, and the case moved on to the penalty phase where the jury would vote on whether to sentence the defendant to life or death. On the final day of trial in the penalty phase, Mr. McCarthy’s defense team fell apart. His two lead attorneys unexpectedly had to cease participating in the case due to personal emergencies, leaving Mr. McCarthy with only one inexperienced defense attorney to represent him. Without any warning or time to prepare, this attorney had to examine three witnesses and present the closing argument unassisted.
The jury subsequently failed to reach a unanimous decision regarding penalty, leaving the sentencing decision to the trial judge. Currently, only Missouri and Indiana allow a judge to render a verdict on a death sentence when a unanimous jury decision cannot be reached. In the majority of other jurisdictions that require jury unanimity, a single vote for life on the jury is sufficient to render a life verdict, while a handful allow for retrial under such circumstances. This was the first time Judge Roldan was faced with this decision.