PRESS RELEASE: The Office of the State Attorney announced today that it will no longer seek the death penalty for Wayne Thomas Coldiron or Donnie Ray Stallworth, Jr. Both Coldiron and Stallworth are charged with two counts of First Degree Murder for the deaths of Melanie and Byrd Billings on July 9, 2009.
This decision is based on the developing case law in the area of the death penalty as well as the evidence brought out during the trial of Leonard Patrick Gonzalez, Jr. In order for the death penalty to be imposed, the State must establish that the statutory aggravating factors outweigh any possible mitigating factors. In addition, the State must show that the imposition of the death penalty is proportional when compared to other individuals charged in the same criminal case as well as other cases where the death penalty was imposed. Neither Coldiron or Stallworth were the “triggerman” for the murders or ever fired their weapons. Further, the State cannot prove that they were aware that the murders would take place. Under these circumstances, it is no longer appropriate to seek the death penalty for either Coldiron or Stallworth.
This decision has been fully discussed with the victims’ family and they concur in not seeking the death penalty against Coldiron and Stallworth. Both Coldiron and Stallworth face a mandatory sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole if convicted of First Degree Murder. The Office of the State Attorney will continue to seek the imposition of the death penalty for Leonard Patrick Gonzalez, Jr. for his involvement in this case.