Jurors will continue their deliberations Thursday morning as they decide whether Brandon Council should be sentenced to either death or life in prison without the possibility of release.
Council was convicted of two counts last week in relation to a deadly robbery at a CresCom Bank in Conway. The Wilson, North Carolina, man had been charged with gunning down Katie Skeen and Donna Major during the robbery that occurred Aug. 21, 2017. Skeen and Major both worked at the bank on 16th Avenue. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty.
The prosecution and the defense both gave closing arguments Wednesday as part of the penalty phase of the trial.
Prosecutor Nathan Williams told the jury that family was everything for Skeen and Major.
Skeen deserved to see her two sons grow up, he said. Major deserved to grow old and be able to retire.
Williams said Council chose to go into the bank and shoot the helpless, harmless women during the robbery he committed out of greed for easy money as he did not want to work, adding he viewed them simply as collateral damage.
He stressed Council should receive the most severe penalty possible in the case.
Council intentionally killed Skeen and Major, he said, targeting innocent victims when doing so and having known he was going to shoot whoever was in the bank that day.
Mentioning the string of North Carolina robberies he committed in the days prior to the bank murders, Williams said Council’s actions displayed an escalating pattern of criminal activity.
Council showed a lack of remorse, he continued, also highlighting the fact he paid for a Mercedes-Benz the day after murdering Skeen and Major as well as partied, went on a “joy ride” hung out with girls and bought jewelry at a mall.
He said Council had had a job in addition to a place to stay, speaking on how he had lived with his girlfriend. Williams said Council didn’t disguise himself, but made an effort to “get missing.”
He talked about how devastated family members of Skeen and Major were after the murders.
“The price of individual choice is individual accountability,” he said.
While he acknowledged that Dobbs Youth Development Center, which Council spent about 27 months at, was not a good place, he reminded the jury that Council had been there two decades ago.
“He chose to kill,” he told jurors. “He chose to murder.”
One of Council’s lawyers Duane Bryant said the current phase of the trial was about deciding how Council would die. He emphasized that everyone has choices.
“No one is all bad and no one is all good,” he said.
Bryant said the part of the trial's purpose is to provide closure to family members, the community and the state.
He asked what sentencing Council to death would accomplish.
Referring to a picture of Council as a baby, Bryant also asked how the person in the image got to be sitting at a table flanked by lawyers Wednesday.
He brought up Council’s past, including his devastation when his grandmother died and his time at Dobbs Youth Development Center.
He stressed that imposing the death penalty is never mandatory.