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A jury on Friday decided killer Floyd Eugene Maestas should be put to death for the brutal slaying of 72-year-old Donna Lou Bott.
The nine-woman, three-man panel returned the verdict after deliberating less than four hours.
Maestas, who showed no reaction when the verdict was read, will be formally sentenced by 3rd District Judge Paul Maughan on Wednesday.
Earlier Friday, Maestas addressed the jury for about two minutes, insisting he was innocent of the capital murder charge against him.
"I feel bad about Ms. Bott," he said. "[But] from the beginning, I said I wasn't guilty. Today, again, I say I didn't kill Ms. Bott."
Maestas did not beg for mercy, saying instead that he would accept the jury's decision.
The 52-year-old defendant also explained why he refused - over objections from his attorneys - to allow any evidence concerning his chaotic childhood or low intellect, saying, "I didn't want my family to get involved" in the sentencing phase of the trial.
Jurors last week found him guilty of the Sept. 28, 2004 slaying of Bott in the bedroom of her Salt Lake City home. He also was convicted of aggravated burglary for robbing an 86-year-old woman at her home the same night Bott died.
Arguing against the death penalty, defense attorney Denise Porter urged jurors to look beyond the crime, to "search for the humanity" within Maestas and sentence him to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
"Look at him shaking before you today - the humanity is there," Porter said.
But prosecutor Kent Morgan claimed Maestas had "earned" a sentence of death.
"Let the punishment fit the crime," Morgan said. "Mercy is for the remorseful and those who demonstrate they have redeeming qualities."
Morgan said Maestas made a 30-year "career" of attacking vulnerable women.
The defendant beat, choked and stabbed Bott, then stomped on her chest hard enough to rupture her aorta.
In 1976, he attacked 79-year-old Alinda McLean, beating her entire body, biting her breast and leaving the victim's Salt Lake City home covered with blood, according to trial testimony.
Jurors were not told that Maestas allegedly repeatedly raped McLean and used a shattered light bulb to gouge out one of her eyes.
In 1989, Maestas beat, kicked, choked and stomped Loene Jane Nelson inside her Salt Lake City home in a manner similar to the attack on Bott, according to trial testimony.
Also in 1989, three sisters chased Maestas from a bedroom of their Salt Lake City home.
Phyllis Demetropolos testified Maestas had broken in, opened a beer, turned on the television and rummaged through their underwear while the women were attending the annual Greek Festival.
After the verdict, Morgan said the death sentence was "just" because Maestas is "someone who won't reform."
Defense attorney David Mack said there will be an automatic appeal of the case.
Mack said one obvious appeal issue will be the judge's decision allowing Maestas to halt the presentation of evidence about his past, which included physical and sexual abuse.
Jurors declined to comment on their deliberations.
The last time a jury heard a capital murder case in Salt Lake County was the 1996 trial of Michael Scott DeCorso, a firefighter and EMT who robbed, tortured and killed a West Jordan shoe store manager in 1994.
Jurors sentenced DeCorso to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
The last death sentence handed down in Salt Lake County was to Roberto V. Arguelles in 1997. Arguelles had pleaded guilty to the 1992 slaying of three teenage girls and a school janitor. Arguelles then asked 3rd District Judge David Young to decide his fate instead of a jury.
Arguelles died in prison in 2003 from a perforated bowel after ingesting folded pieces of legal documents and his own poetry.
Prior to that, Ralph Leroy Menzies was convicted by a jury of capital murder in 1988 for kidnapping and strangling a Kearns woman in 1986. Like Arguelles, Menzies waived a jury for the penalty phase and Judge Raymond Uno imposed the death penalty. Menzies' case is on appeal.