Jury now weighing death penalty for Scott Nelson

The assistant state attorney opened her closing arguments in murderer Scott Nelson’s sentencing phase describing him as cold and calculated.  

“On September 27th, 2017 Jennifer Fulford became a means to an end,” prosecutor Kelly Hicks said. “He couldn't get to his end game of being able to take that witness stand and being able to rail against the world and get the attention he wanted to get from the crime he committed unless he went big. Go big or go home. And, he went big.”

Hicks reminded the jury that they saw surveillance video of Nelson buying his knife, duct tape, and zip ties -- the murder weapons -- two weeks before forcing his way into a swanky Winter Park home.

Nelson tied the house manager/nanny up in her employer’s home, put duct tape across her entire face before wrapping her up in a duvet from the master bedroom, taking her to an ATM, stealing her money before killing her in a field.  Jurors looked to be getting uncomfortable during a dramatic silent pause.

“Two minutes is a very long time with duct tape around your head and you’ve been stabbed seven times,” Hicks said, referring to the minimum amount of time the medical examiner said it would take for Fulford to die.  “Find death penalty the only appropriate sentence for murder of Jennifer Fulford,” she said, ending her one-and-a-half-hour closing argument.

Nelson’s defense team told the jury Fulford’s murder was not premeditated.

“The robbery was planned. Murder was after the robbery went terribly wrong,” the defense attorney Chelsea Simmons said.

She tried to convince them that Nelson’s needs a break because he’s lived a rough life, starting with a difficult upbringing.  

“Including his abusive and later absent father, mentally ill mother, physically abusive older brothers,” Simmons said.

She also brought up that their expert witnesses diagnosed Nelson as being bipolar, depressed and having suffered several head injuries.

“We as Americans do not execute the mentally ill in this country, especially those made worse by years in prison,” Simmons said.  

She asked the jury for mercy, saying she believed a life sentence without parole would be appropriate for Scott Nelson.

The jury began deliberating just before 1:30 Tuesday afternoon.  Just before 6 p.m. the judge rounded up dinner menus to send back to the jury room after the group decided they wanted to keep working.

The jury did not arrive at a verdict and has requested that they recess for the evening.  They will be sequestered in a hotel and the deliberations will resume at 9 a.m. on Thursday.