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Jurors Will Sentence Former Teacher's Killer

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RALEIGH, N.C. — Jurors began deliberating Friday afternoon whether the man convicted of fatally shooting a retired teacher last year should live or die.

Ezavia Allen, 20, was convicted Tuesday of first-degree murder in the April 2005 slaying of Shirley Newkirk. The 63-year-old retired teacher was preparing for an early morning walk with a friend when she was shot in the driveway of her southeast Raleigh home.

Prosecutors said the slaying was the culmination of a two-week crime spree by Allen and two other men.

The jury discussed the sentencing for about two hours Friday afternoon before recessing for the weekend. They are expected to resume their deliberations Monday.

Judge James C. Spencer Jr. on Thursday replaced a juror who earlier in the day said she was pressured into convicting Allen and couldn't vote for the death penalty in the case.

Spencer denied a defense request for a mistrial and ordered that the deliberations proceed with an alternate juror.

During the trial, Allen showed little emotion -- he appeared to doze off at times -- and prosecutors noted the behavior during closing arguments Friday.

"Did you all see one ounce of remorse in this courtroom, any emotion whatsoever? He's just as cool and calm today as he was that day he talked to (police) and talked about putting a bead on Ms. Shirley Newkirk and pulling the trigger," Assistant Wake County District Attorney Jeff Cruden said.

The defense said Allen is a product of his rough childhood, adding that he did the right thing after Newkirk's murder by cooperating with police, confessing to the crime and accepting responsibility.

"You accept responsibility for the wrong you've done, and I ask you not to kill him for that. If anything, that is enough to warrant letting this young man live," defense attorney Mike Klinkosum told jurors.

Cruden told the jury that Allen's poor upbringing shouldn't be an excuse for killing Newkirk. He said Allen had forfeited his right to live.

Klinkosum said the death penalty isn't meant for someone like Allen.

"The death penalty is reserved for the worst of the worst, and we are talking about people who enjoy killing, that get gratification from killing another human being, not for someone who says, 'Oh my God, what have I done?'" Klinkosum said.