A Texas jury wasted no time in sentencing a man that police called a sexual predator to a life sentence following his conviction for murdering a teenage girl. Dallas County prosecutors declined to seek the death penalty because of the killer’s “intellectual disability.”
The jury deliberated for six minutes before returning to the courtroom and handing down a sentence of life in prison and a $10,000 fine to 36-year-old Antonio Cochran. The same jury found Cochran guilty of murdering 18-year-old Zoe Hastings after deliberating for four days, NBCDFW reported.
Dallas police investigators called Cochran a sexual predator after arresting him in October 2015, Breitbart Texas reported. Cochran kidnapped Hastings after she stopped at a Redbox kiosk outside a Walgreens store to return a rented movie.
Prosecutors said Cochran drove her to an isolated location where he sexually assaulted her and then stabbed her in the neck. He left her mortally wounded in a creek bed where he had crashed her stolen vehicle, the Dallas Morning News reported.
Defense attorneys argued that DNA evidence found on the murder weapon was not sufficient to convict Cochran of the murder. He used a pocket knife to slash the young woman’s throat multiple times. There were also defensive wounds on her hands.
“You take that young lady who had her whole life in front of her and destroy it in an instant because you had an urge so strong that even driving off a steep cliff that urge doesn’t go away.” Dallas County Assistant District Attorney Pat Kirlin told the jury.
Cochran had an extensive criminal history that included domestic violence assault, burglary, and possession of a controlled substance. The now-convicted killer had previously been charged with sexually assaulting his girlfriend’s daughter. A jury eventually acquitted him on the charge because they reportedly did not believe the young girl’s testimony.
“He’s obviously a sexual predator, taken off the streets and will never do this again,” Dallas Police Department Major Max Geron told reporters following Cochran’s arrest.
“There are no words that can express our sorrow to the Hastings family for having to endure such a traumatic and tragic loss. We will continue to pray for them and while we cannot bring Zoe back, we hope this outcome will help them heal,” Dallas County District Attorney Faith Johnson told reporters following the Capital Murder conviction. “On behalf of my team who worked on this case, I want to thank the jury for their service. Their sentence ensures that Antonio Cochran will no longer have the opportunity to harm another person again.”
Texas law provides for a sentence of life in prison without parole for Capital Murder convictions where the death penalty is not applied.