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Huntsville man found guilty in daughter’s murder

Francis has said he accidentally fired his gun when his daughter tried to hug him while he was cleaning the weapon.

Posted: May 24, 2019 2:21 PM
Updated: May 24, 2019 9:23 PM

Lionel Francis has been found guilty of capital murder in the May 2016 death of his toddler.

Police say Francis got into a fight with the mother of his 20-month-old daughter, Alexandria Francis, leading him to shooting the young girl in the head. He was arrested and charged with capital murder.

Francis has said he accidentally fired his gun when his daughter tried to hug him while he was cleaning the weapon.

Prosecutor, Tim Douthit, said when Francis shot the toddler in the head, it was evil and not an an accident.

"The toughest part for me to get over and for the jury to get over was just the acceptance that somebody could be so evil in this particular case," Douthit said. 

The jury deliberated for about four hours before returning their verdict that the shooting was intentional. As Francis left court, he was emotionless and shrugged his shoulders when WAAY 31 asked him about the jury's verdict. 

Francis' sentencing hearing is scheduled for Tuesday. He will either be sentenced to life in prison without parole or the death penalty. The state is seeking the death penalty, but the defense is hoping for life in prison without parole.

The jury will sit through a mini trial during the sentencing phase, and both sides can call witnesses to the stand. Then, the jury will deliberate before recommending a sentence to the judge.

In this case, the jury's decision is only a recommendation. The judge has the final say. This isn't true for all death penalty cases in the state.

On Governor Kay Ivey's first day in office in 2017, she signed a bill that said a judge can no longer overrule the jury and give someone the death penalty. However, since Francis' case started before 2017, the judge has the option to override the jury.

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