Sentencing hearing finished in Halifax County capital murder case

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HALIFAX CO., Va. (WDBJ7) The Commonwealth’s Attorney has finished closing arguments in the capital murder sentencing phase for a Halifax County man.

James Lloyd Terry

James Terry’s defense team finished closing arguments shortly after noon.

A judge did not make a decision on whether Terry will receive the death penalty or not.

The judge says for 5 years he has heard the details of this case and it is unfair to both sides if he was to make a decision too quickly.

That decision will be made during a hearing on October 31.

Terry entered guilty pleas in March on counts of capital murder, rape, and robbery related to the death of Charlotte Rice in South Boston. Under Virginia law a person found guilty of capital murder can face a punishment of death or life in prison.

A neighbor found Rice, 84, beaten and lifeless in her home on Hamilton Boulevard in April of 2011. According to prosecutors, the neighbor who found Rice reported seeing a man matching Terry's description "nude from the waist up" and fleeing Rice's home shortly after she was attacked.

During the closing arguments, the Commonwealth's Attorney told the court room the defense did not prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Terry has an intellectual disability but rather a learning disability.

The Commonwealth says Terry knew what he was doing on the night he killed Rice.

Prosecutors say if Terry is not executed, he would be a threat to society.

Terry's attorneys say he has struggled with a lifetime of failures and needs a structured environment to survive.

They say he would not be a threat in jail. His defense is asking for life in prison.

Prosecutors say the judge should give Terry a death sentence because he accepts life in prison and he should not get what he accepts but what he deserves for what he did to Rice.

WDBJ7 tried to speak with both families and the attorneys after court Thursday and everyone declined to comment.