The man facing the death penalty for murdering a Myrtle Beach police officer in 2002 says he deserves a new trial because his lawyer didn’t strike two jurors who found him guilty.
This week Luzenski Allen Cottrell filed a post conviction rights request in Horry County Circuit Court.
A jury convicted Cottrell for the murder of Myrtle Beach police officer Joe McGarry outside a Dunkin Donuts on Dec. 29, 2002. McGarry and his partner, Mike Guthinger, were walking into the shop when Guthinger recognized Cottrell as a suspect in another shooting, according to court testimony.
The officers confronted Cottrell outside and a brief struggle ensued. Cottrell pulled out a .45 caliber gun and shot McGarry. Guthinger returned fire and shot Cottrell in the leg as he fled.
McGarry had just proposed to his girlfriend days before the shooting.
In 2014, Judge Larry Hyman sentenced Cottrell to death.
That was after the South Carolina Supreme Court overturned Cottrell’s previous murder conviction and death sentence during an April 2005 trial. The court overturned the case because the jury did not have the option of convicting Cottrell of a lesser charge.
Cottrell is also serving a life sentence for a 2004 murder indictment in Marion County.
In Cottrell’s post conviction right request, he says he was denied effective lawyers during the 2014 trial. Cottrell argued attorneys failed to strike two potential jurors – out of hundreds who were called.
The jurors stated they would not consider Cottrell’s background as relevant when considering the death penalty,according to the filing. Mitigating evidence can be considered by a jury when deciding on the death penalty.
Lawyers objected to the jurors, but the judge overruled that objection, according to the filing. Lawyers then did not use strikes to remove the jurors who were eventually part of the jury.
“Because of their self-professed unwillingness to consider a broad range of constitutionally relevant mitigating evidence, it is at least reasonably probable that one or both jurors adversely affected the outcome of the penalty phase deliberations,” the filing reads.