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Death Penalty Still Possible For McVay

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The death penalty is still on the table after a motions hearing for James McVay has come to a close.


McVay’s lawyers argued that there is unequal funding between the State’s Attorney’s Office and the Public Defender’s Office on Thursday, in an attempt to eliminate the death penalty as a possible sentence.


James McVay is still facing a sentence of life in prison, or the death penalty.


McVay pleaded guilty but mentally ill to first degree murder in 2011. McVay walked away from the minimum security unit at the South Dakota State Penitentiary, before breaking into 75-year-old Maybelle Schein’s home, stabbing her in the neck, and stealing her car. McVay was eventually caught by police in Madison, WI.


During the second half of a two-day motions hearing on Thursday, McVay’s lawyers attempted to rule out the death penalty as a possible sentencing option, on the basis of unequal funding between the prosecution and defense.


McVay’s lawyers argued that they do not have the same funding or resources as the State’s Attorney’s Office.


Judge Peter Lieberman denied that motion, stating “the state will always have more resources available to them, such as law enforcement on both the local and state levels."


He went on saying “I have not seen anything lacking for the defense in this case whatsoever. The defense has not been anything but complete. If there is anything the defense has suffered from, it is over enthusiasm.”


Both parties presented statistics on budget amounts and expenditures, before Judge Lieberman concluded that there is no legal evidence supporting an issue of unequal  funding.


Minnehaha County State’s Attorney Aaron McGowan argued that “even if there was an issue of unequal funding, it would be no basis for the court to preclude the death penalty as a sentence.”


It was also determined on Wednesday that McVay’s TV interview will be used as evidence during his sentencing hearing.


McVay’s sentencing hearing is scheduled to begin in March.

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