Federal judge sentences serial killer Gary Lee Sampson to death

BOSTON (WHDH) - The man convicted of killing two Massachusetts men in 2001 carjackings has been formally sentenced to death for a second time.

Gary Lee Sampson, a drifter from Abington, faced a U.S. District Court judge Friday morning and learned he would be put to death by execution. He will be held on death row in Indiana.

Sampson was first condemned to die in 2003, but a judge later granted him a new sentencing trial after finding that one of the jurors at his first trial had lied about her background.

A new federal jury deliberated for three days in January before sentencing Sampson to death for the killing of 19-year-old Jonathan Rizzo.

Jurors were unable to reach a unanimous decision on Sampson’s penalty for the killing of 69-year-old Philip McCloskey, so Sampson was sentenced to life for that crime.

Sampson’s lawyers said he was brain damaged and mentally ill when he separately carjacked Rizzo, a college student from Kingston, and McCloskey, a retired pipefitter from Taunton, stabbed them each more than a dozen times, slit their throats and left them to die in the woods.

Prosecutors said the killings were especially cruel because Sampson repeatedly assured the men that he only wanted their cars and would not kill them if they followed his instructions. They did, but he killed them anyway, telling police he didn’t want to leave any witnesses.

Sampson was also given a separate life sentence for killing a third man, Robert “Eli” Whitney, in New Hampshire.

Sampson pleaded guilty to the killings, so the jury was asked only to decide whether he should get life in prison or the death penalty.

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