Here are some of the people on death row who were under age 18 when their crimes were committed:
Kenneth Laird was convicted of first-degree murder in the 1992 death of a woman who owned a pickup truck that witnesses said he wanted. Laird was 17 when, according to prosecutors, he broke into Wanda Starnes’ Scottsdale home while she was at work.
When Starnes returned home, he tied, gagged and locked her in a bathroom. He then slept in her bed. When he awoke, he choked Starnes with a rope and bashed her skull. He drove her body to the desert to bury her, blood dripping from the truck. Laird spent the next few days driving her truck and forging checks from her account, prosecutors said.
Nathan Ramirez, was sentenced to death for the murder of 71-year-old Mildred Boroski in March 1995, when he was 17. Boroski, a widow, was in bed sleeping hours after her birthday party when Ramirez and an 18-year-old friend broke into her home, hoping to steal gifts and money.
They tied her to her bed, killed her dog with a crowbar and looted the house. Ramirez told detectives the 18-year-old raped Boroski before the teens put her in her car, drove her to a field, forced her to get out and walk into the field and lie down.
Ramirez then shot Boroski twice in the head. He was sentenced to death in 1996 but the Florida Supreme Court overturned both the conviction and the sentence. He was tried again in 2003 and convicted and condemned a second time.
Larry L. Jenkins was 17 when he killed Terry Ralston and her teen-age son, Michael, in Wayne County in 1995. The victims were reported missing when they failed to return from a coin laundry in Jesup. Their bodies were found the next day, and Jenkins and three other men were later seen in the Ralstons’ van.
Dale Dwayne Craig was convicted of the Sept. 14, 1992 killing of Kipp Gullet, a student at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, who was ambushed, abducted and had his van stolen after pulling into a dormitory parking lot.
According to co-defendants who testified against Craig, who was 17 at the time of the killing, the victim cried and begged for mercy. Craig fired three bullets into his head as the victim lay on the ground in a fetal position.
In 1999, Craig was one of four death row inmates at the Louisiana State Penitentiary who escaped for a short time on the prison grounds (the prison is like a giant plantation) and were recaptured near the Mississippi River where they apparently intended to float across on a crude raft.
Stephen Virgil McGilberry, was sentenced to die for killing four members of his family in 1994 with a baseball bat when he was 16. He claimed he didn’t know what he was saying when he confessed to police.
He was convicted on four capital murder charges in the deaths of his stepfather, Kenneth Purifoy; mother, Patricia Purifoy; stepsister, Kimberly Self; and step-nephew, Kristopher Self, in the family’s St. Martin home in Jackson County.
Kevin Golphin was 17 in September 1997, when prosecutors said he and his brother Tilmon, 19, robbed a finance company worker in Kingstree, S.C., then stole a car and drove north on Interstate 95. They were stopped by a North Carolina Highway Patrol trooper, and a Cumberland County Sheriff’s deputy arrived to provide backup.
Tilmon Golphin opened fire with a semiautomatic rifle and, as the officers lay bleeding, Kevin Golphin shot both men fatally at point-blank range.
A jury sentenced them to death in May 1998, a sentence that the N.C. Supreme Court upheld in 2000. Tilmon Golphin, now 26, remains on death row at Raleigh’s Central Prison.
Kevin Hughes was a week short of his 17th birthday when he murdered a 9-year-old girl in a vacant house in March 1979. Hughes, now 42, abducted Rochelle Graham from a school playground, then sexually assaulted and strangled her before setting her body on fire.
The crime went unsolved for 10 months, until another girl, 13, identified Hughes’ photograph to police after she also was attacked and sexually assaulted. Hughes was sentenced to death for the murder.
Eric Morgan was sent to death last March for killing a clerk at a Spartanburg County convenience store during a robbery in 2000, when he was 17. Prosecutors said Morgan waited for 57-year-old Jerry Smith to close the store, then shot him once in the head with a .22 caliber rifle from a parked car and took more than $7,000 cash.
Investigators also found a pipe bomb that Morgan planned to use to blow up the store, according to court testimony. At his trial, Morgan’s attorney Roger Poole told jurors the teen had a low IQ and grew up in poverty. His childhood had been rocked by deaths in his family and he had been shuttled between relatives as a child, Poole said.
Efrain Perez and Raul Villarreal were both 17 in 1993 when they joined three other teenagers in the gang rape and killings of Jennifer Ertman, 14, and Elizabeth Pena, 16. The girls were taking a shortcut home from a party and came upon Perez, Villarreal and their friends, who were drinking and fighting along a Houston rail line. The girls were repeatedly raped before being strangled and stomped to death.
The girls’ rotting bodies were found four days later. Ertman’s teeth were kicked in and she was strangled with a belt and Pena’s jaw was broken before she was strangled by her shoelaces. The outspoken grief of Ertman’s father, Randy, led to a law allowing families of murder victims to watch the execution of their loved one’s killer.
Shermaine A. Johnson was convicted in 1998 of raping and stabbing Hope Denise Hall in 1994, when he was 16, after DNA evidence linked him to the slaying. Johnson already was serving prison sentences totaling 100 years for the rapes of two Franklin, Va., women when his DNA was matched with evidence found in Hall’s apartment.
His defense lawyers have argued that Johnson’s IQ of 75 could mean he his mentally retarded. But Virginia Supreme Court concluded that Johnson’s “claim of mental retardation is frivolous.”