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Alabama man gets death in shooting of 1-year-old daughter

From The Trussville Tribune staff reports

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (AP) — A man convicted of capital murder in the shooting death of his 1-year-old daughter was sentenced to die Thursday more than three years after the killing.

Madison County Circuit Judge Ruth Ann Hall imposed the death penalty on Lionel Rory Francis, 37.

Jurors convicted Francis of capital murder in May. They recommended the death penalty for the gunshot killing of his 20-month-old daughter, Alexandria Francis.

Francis told police the shooting, which happened in May 2016, was accidental.

But a forensic expert testified that evidence indicated the gun was placed on the child’s forehead. Jurors also heard a recorded phone call in which the girl’s mother, Ashley Ross, dismissed the man’s claims that the shooting was an accident.

Francis, who told the judge he is appealing, was the first person sentenced to death in Huntsville in more than a decade.

“We give (death) to the people who are the worst of the worst,” said prosecutor Tim Douthit. “I cannot think of anybody more deserving than somebody who executes another human being, let alone a child, let alone a toddler, let alone his own biological 2-year-old. If you think some people just deserve death, this is the guy.”

Francis’ attorneys asked the judge for a sentence of life without parole sentence because the jury’s 11-1 vote for the death penalty wasn’t unanimous.

“We hope that at some point in the future, the jury is going to be required to be unanimous in recommending the death penalty,” defense lawyer Bruce Gardner said afterward.

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