Judge rules state can pursue death penalty for Huntsville man police say killed his daughter

Huntsville police say Lionel Francis shot and killed his 20-month-old daughter, Alexandria Francis, in 2016 after a fight with her mother.

Posted: May 3, 2019 2:01 PM

A Madison County judge has ruled a man accused of killing his own daughter is eligible for the death penalty.

Huntsville police say the shooting happened in May of 2016 on Lockwood Court, near Drake and Triana Boulevard. Police say Lionel Francis got into a fight with the mother of his 20-month-old daughter, Alexandria Francis, leading him to shooting the young girl in the head. He was arrested and charged with capital murder.

The state is now seeking the death penalty in the case citing a prior conviction in North Dakota as the aggravator. However, Francis' lawyers argued the prior conviction did not justify the death penalty because it was a misdemeanor in North Dakota not a felony.

"If they lose on that aggravating circumstance then and if the jury finds Mr. Francis guilty the sentence must be life without parole," said Bruce Gardner the lawyer for Lionel Francis.

Friday the judge ruled in favor of the state saying the law in Alabama has to be taken into consideration and the state can use the prior conviction as the aggravator to pursue the death penalty.

The trial will begin on May 20th. That's when a jury will be selected. Once they hear the case they will give their recommendation to the judge who will ultimately have the final say on whether or not Francis will be sentenced to death.

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