The Richmond County Superior Court jury deliberated just short of an hour before deciding that death was the appropriate sentence for each of the three victims.
As the judge polled jurors to ensure that was their decision, Hargrove dropped his head and hunched his shoulders.
The same jury had convicted Hargrove, 36, on Friday for the brutal Feb. 9, 2008, slayings of 18-year-old Allyson Pederson and her parents, Sharon and Andrew Hartley.
Pederson, who was pregnant, and the Hartleys were repeatedly stabbed with a butcher knife and beaten by Hargrove.
This morning, Judge James G. Blanchard Jr., who presided over the trial, will impose sentences for the other crimes Hargrove was convicted of – kidnapping, feticide, burglary and three counts of possession of a knife during the commission of a crime.
“Your verdict should speak for the community,” District Attorney Ashley Wright told the jury in her closing statement Tuesday. Hargrove attacked unarmed, unsuspecting innocent victims, she argued. “What trumps, what stops evil?”
Pederson was cut and stabbed 21 times and suffered at least four blows in an abandoned trailer on Horseshoe Road. Hargrove dumped her body at the Lock and Dam where he set her on fire.
Sharon Hartley was cut and stabbed 12 times before dying on the floor of her own bedroom where her body was found splattered with her husband’s blood. Andrew Hartley was cut and stabbed 20 times and hit 17 times with an ax handle. Hargrove gouged his face while Hartley was still alive in his Bennock Mill Road Home, Wright said.
In a span of just a few hours, Hargrove killed not once but three times, Wright said. Afterward, he lied to sheriff’s detectives, tried to get witnesses to obstruct justice, was caught in jail with a shank and planned to escape the first chance he got, she said.
The magnitude of his crimes deserved the ultimate punishment, she argued.
But Newell Hamilton of the Georgia Capital Defender office asked the jury for mercy for Hargrove, to sentence him to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
“This was a horrible crime and we have never said it was not,” Hamilton told the jury. But another death would not make it better, he said.
Life in prison without any chance of ever being free again is punishment, Hamilton argued. To live every day with someone else controlling your every movement was not a life anyone would choose. And, Hamilton added, there was no evidence that Hargrove would be a danger to any staff or other inmate.
For the jury to return a verdict of death, each member had to vote for that punishment. A single vote of life in prison would spare Hargrove, Hamilton said. He implored each juror to use his own moral values and not be afraid to be the lone vote for life.