Jurors seek death in decapitation case

? Jurors on Wednesday recommended the death penalty for a truck driver convicted of killing and beheading a housekeeper.

Douglas S. Belt showed no facial expression when the jury recommended that the 42-year-old man convicted of capital murder die by lethal injection. Belt will be sentenced on Nov. 17.

To make the recommendation, the jury needed both unanimous agreement and aggravating circumstances that outweighed any mitigating circumstances.

In this case, jurors agreed that the crime was to avoid lawful arrest, and was committed in a “heinous, atrocious and cruel manner.” The unanimous agreement to recommend capital punishment came after about three hours of deliberation.

On Tuesday, Belt asked jurors to spare his life and continued to maintain his innocence in the death of Lucille Gallegos in June 2002.

“I’m sure some of you think of me as a monster and will vote for death,” Belt said. “I ask you to give me life.”

Belt was convicted on Monday of capital murder, attempted rape and aggravated arson in the slaying of 43-year-old Lucille Gallegos. The killing took place inside a vacant apartment building where Gallegos worked as a maid.

Belt’s public defender, Ron Evans, did not present any evidence on Belt’s mental state.

“I’m sorry to disappoint you,” Evans told jurors. “But there will be no explanation to why he did something he did not do.”

Douglas Belt looks at the jury after they unanimously voted to sentence him to death Wednesday in Wichita. Belt was convicted of capital murder Monday for the gruesome beheading of Lucille Gallegos in June 2002. Belt's attorney, Ron Evans, is seated at Belt's right.

The defense pointed throughout the trial to Gallegos’ boyfriend as the likely killer. Her boyfriend, at one time a suspect, was never arrested or charged in the case.

Prosecutors said the evidence pointed only to Belt, who they said had a pattern of violent behavior beginning in the late 1980s.

The Kansas Bureau of Investigation acknowledged last year that Belt was mistakenly cleared of a 1991 rape when another person’s DNA sample was accidentally labeled with his name in an agency lab. His own sample had been labeled “unknown.”