Saturday, July 21, 2007

Man receives death sentence

July 21, 2007


-A Kissimmee man convicted of capital murder in the New Year's Eve 1986 slayings of an Arkansas couple has been sentenced to die by injection in Arkansas.

Jurors took about an hour Thursday to decide on the death penalty for Steven Wertz, 56. On Wednesday, they deliberated about 40 minutes before returning verdicts of guilty on both murder counts.

The only other penalty for capital murder in Arkansas is life in prison without parole.

After the sentence was pronounced Thursday, Wertz told the courtroom, "I did not do this."

Wertz was convicted of shooting to death Terry and Kathy Watts, who were found dead at their home. Police say the couple were killed in front of their infant son.

Circuit Judge Harold Erwin set an execution date of Sept. 4. He said he knew the execution would be postponed while Wertz appeals but said he was required by law to set an execution date.

Jim Leusner, Gary Taylor, Christine Show, Christopher Sherman and Willoughby Mariano of the Sentinel staff contributed to this report. Information from The Associated Press also was used.

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