Man who set daughter on fire says he's sorry - East Valley Tribune: East Valley Local News

Man who set daughter on fire says he's sorry

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Posted: Tuesday, July 21, 2009 5:08 pm | Updated: 3:02 am, Sat Oct 8, 2011.

A 34-year-old man who intentionally set his 2-year-old daughter on fire in 1999 told a jury he would accept the death penalty if that is what the panel decides. Shawn Grell capped off the three-month trial Tuesday with a minutelong speech to the jury.

Jury forced to revisit tragedy of childs murder

A 34-year-old man who intentionally set his 2-year-old daughter on fire in 1999 told a jury he would accept the death penalty if that is what the panel decides.

Shawn Grell capped off the three-month trial Tuesday with a minutelong speech to the jury.

Shawn Grell

"I'm extremely sorry for what I did to my daughter," Grell said. "There is not a day that's gone by where I haven't thought about it."

The jury in Maricopa County Superior Court in Mesa is due to begin deliberating Wednesday on whether he should be given the death penalty.

If the jury decides against the death penalty, then Judge Teresa Sanders will sentence him to either a life sentence with no parole or life with a chance of parole after 25 years.

Jury selection begins in Grell death penalty

Jury forced to revisit tragedy of childs murder

 

Grell was convicted in the death of Kristen Salem in 2001 after a short bench trial. He waived his right to a jury trial, but not for a sentencing trial.

Judge Barbara Jarrett sentenced Grell to death, but a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in 2002 found that Arizona's system of judges sentencing defendants to death was unconstitutional. State law was then changed so that juries make the ultimate decision.

The Arizona Supreme Court upheld Grell's conviction in 2006, but found since he didn't waive his right to a jury trial for sentencing, he should get one.

Grell's attorneys tried to convince the jury that he is mentally retarded. Arizona does not execute mentally retarded defendants.

He appeared in court in dress slacks and a gray, long-sleeved dress shirt.

He seemed to speak to the jury extemporaneously and apologized for causing the panel to have to serve for three months.

He also apologized to his family and Kristen's family, but he never looked over to where her mother, Amber Salem, sat in the front row.

"I wish I could take back what I did," Grell said.

He has admitted to picking up the girl from day care on Dec. 2, 1999, and then promising to take her to see Christmas lights.

He stopped at a Mesa Target to buy a gas can, stopped to buy the gas and then drove the girl to a remote area in east Mesa, where he laid her on the roadside and poured gas on her before striking a match.

He said the girl stood up and ran in circles as she burned.

Grell turned himself in to police in downtown Phoenix a few hours later.

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