Penalty phase begins in federal trial of convicted killer

Defense highlights 57 factors to spare Jessie Con-Ui's life

SCRANTON, LACKAWANNA COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) - Will it be life in prison or death? That is the decision a jury has to make in the federal trial of Jessie Con-Ui.

Earlier this month, it took the same jury less than 30 minutes to find Con-Ui guilty of first degree murder for the death of a corrections officer inside the federal prison in Wayne County.

The penalty phase of Con-Ui's trial began Monday morning in Scranton.

Prosecutors say Jessie Con-Ui has both "earned" and "deserves" the death penalty for brutally stabbing and stomping on corrections officer Eric Williams four years ago.

Defense attorneys believe their client's life is worth sparing, saying that it still has value.

Defense attorney David Ruhnke believes there are 57 reasons why Jessie Con-Ui should get life in prison.

As the penalty phase of his client's trial began in federal court, Ruhnke tried to show a different side of the convicted killer, a man who is sorry and ashamed for killing corrections officer Eric Williams inside the federal prison near Waymart in 2013.

Ruhnke told jurors there is no way Con-Ui will ever escape a life of steel and concrete.

He said, "there's no more walking free. There's no more human contact."

Federal prosecutors say life in prison isn't enough.

They say Jessie Con-Ui's violence and brutality began 14 years before the death of Eric Williams.

Prosecutors say the murder behind the walls of USP Canaan was not the first one that Con-Ui was involved in.

Jessie Con-Ui was also responsible for a 2002 shooting death in Arizona and since then has been involved in other prison threats, assaults and at least one other stabbing.

Calling Jessie Con-Ui violent and brutal, prosecutors also reminded jurors of the disturbing video that shows Eric Williams getting stabbed 203 times.

Prosecutor Robert Feitel told jurors, "if a picture is worth 1,000 words, that video is worth a million words."

Defense attorneys tried to play to jurors emotions Monday.

They put pictures of Jessie Con-Ui from his childhood on the courtroom video screens. They even showed pictures of his two children and other family members saying they are all "good and decent people" that would be devastated if the death penalty is imposed.

The penalty phase of this federal trial could last one or two weeks, possibly even longer.

Prosecutors and defense lawyers actually went half-way around the world, to the Philippines where Jessie Con-Ui was born, to interview his family members for this trial.

 


  • Golf Challenge
    Copyright 2017 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
  • Community Appearance
    Copyright 2017 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
  • No TXT Nepa
    Copyright 2017 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
  • Hometown Heroes
    Copyright 2017 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
  • Movies
    Copyright 2017 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Latest News

Video Center