Joseph Bannister – black, age 33

Sentenced to death in Cook County, Illinois
By: A jury
Date of crime: 9/23/2000
Prosecution’s case/defense response: Bannister’s ex-girlfriend, Sharon Banks, had taken out several protection orders against Bannister since 1993 and had just obtained an emergency protection order. Bannister went to Bank’s apartment, kicked in the door, opened fire on her, and critically wounded her. Bannister then killed Bank’s sister, Henrietta Banks, by shooting her three times in the head. Bannister shot the sisters in front of six children, including the daughter that Bannister shared with Sharon Banks. During the penalty phase, the prosecution presented evidence of Bannister’s gangster lifestyle and criminal history which included an attempted murder conviction and possession of drugs with intent to sell. The defense argued Bannister was a family man and snapped when Sharon Banks would not let him see their daughter.
Prosecutor(s): Anna Demacopoulos, Lu Ann Snow
Defense lawyer(s): Gina Piemonte, Jacqueline Ross
Sources: Chicago Sun Times 5/7/2005 (2005 WLNR 7430668), 5/12/2005 (2005 WLNR 7731673), 5/13/2005 (2005 WLNR 7732169); Chicago Tribune 5/6/2005, 5/12/2005, 5/13/2005 (LEXIS USPAPR file).

Jesus Alvarez-Garcia – Latino, age 38

Sentenced to death in Cook County, Illinois
By: A jury
Date of crime: 6/27/2002
Prosecution’s case/defense response: Alvarez-Garcia’s estranged wife, Maritza Baez, had taken a protection order out against him after he threatened to kill her several times. Baez was engaged to a Chicago police officer and was eight-and-a-half months pregnant with the officer’s child. Alvarez-Garcia saw Baez driving to work, retrieved a gun from his house, and shot and killed Baez while she was sitting in her car. He then drove to a restaurant to eat. Baez was rushed to the hospital where they delivered her baby by cesarean. The baby, Michelle, died three months later as a result of oxygen depravation from the shooting. Alvarez-Garcia confessed to the shooting and admitted he had been thinking about killing Baez since she took out the protection order because she was dating another man.
Prosecutor(s): Robert Robertson, Nancy Galassini Defense lawyer(s): Woodward T. Jordan
Sources: Chicago Sun Times 3/31/2005; Chicago Tribune 3/31/2005