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July 25, 2015 -- A juror appearing to sleep in court may have unwittingly given the defense a reason to avoid the death penalty.

On trial is Christopher Monfort. The person of African ancestry was convicted of assassinating a white police officer.

During the sentencing phase, a juror appeared to be sleeping. The inattentiveness of the juror may allow Monfort to waste tax dollars as he languishes in prison without the possibility of parole rather than being put to death.

Monfort was convicted last month of killing Seattle police Officer Timothy Brenton in 2009.

The defense claimed Monfort was mentally disturbed and faced racism in Indiana.

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Convicted cop killer Christopher Monfort declined to speak as a jury decides if he should live or die.

The court adjourned in the penalty phase on Wednesday afternoon. The defense attorneys’ closing arguments were not yet finished.

During those afternoon arguments, the court observed one of the jurors who had possibly fallen asleep. The judge and lawyers are deciding how that might affect a fair sentencing process.

Monfort was 41 when he killed Seattle police Officer Timothy Brenton in 2009. This same jury convicted him last month.

He was also found guilty of attempted murder for shooting Brenton's partner, Brit Kelly, and arson for destroying vehicles at a city maintenance yard weeks before the fatal attack.

During closing arguments in the penalty phase, the prosecutor said Monfort "ambushed Tim and Britt. They didn’t have a chance. This was a cold-blooded assassination."
At one point, Monfort interrupted, saying, "Police keep shooting our people."

Monfort's lawyer says his life should be spared because of his struggles with mental illness and a tough childhood in which he faced racism and bullying while growing up in Indiana.

His lawyer told the jury they must decide if a sentence of life in prison is not enough and if they want to have poison injected into his veins or a rope around his neck.

If the jury cannot reach agreement on a sentencing verdict, Monfort will be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

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