Broward News

James Herard, Dunkin' Donuts Killer, Gets Death Penalty Recommendation for Separate Murder

A jury of six men and six women have recommended that James Herard, the former gang member convicted for the brutal 2008 Thanksgiving Day Dunkin' Donuts robbery in Tamarac, be sentenced to death.

Herard, 24, has already been sentenced to multiple counts of life imprisonment for the death of Kiem Huynh, a customer killed in that robbery.

But on Thursday, the same jury said Herard deserves the death penalty for the murder of a man in a separate, but equally brutal, incident.

Eric Jean-Pierre, 39, was shot and killed on his way home from work on the night of November 14, 2008.

Herard and two other members of the Bacc Street Crips were basically hunting humans for sport in a sort of body-count contest, prosecutors say.

And while Herard was not the one who pulled the trigger, the prosecution says he is just as to blame as the gang member who did, 26-year-old Tharod Bell.

According to Herard himself, in taped interrogations with police, he encouraged Bell to shoot someone on order to move up in status in the gang.

"That's not my body," Herard told detectives of Jean-Pierre, per the Sun-Sentinel, "but you might as well give it to me, because he [Bell] wouldn't have pulled the trigger if I didn't provoke it."

Jean-Pierre was terrifyingly picked seemingly at random by Bell, and shot in the chest with Herard's shotgun at close-point range.

Bell is also facing the death penalty if convicted.

In 2011, Herard was sentenced to nine life sentences and 125 additional years in jail for the Dunkin Donuts killings.

Herard and fellow gang members walked into the Dunkin' Donuts on the night of November 26, 2008, slammed customers and employees on the floor; robbed them of their wallets; and took cash from the register.

Herard then opened fire, injuring two severely and grazing two more victims inside the Dunkin' Donuts. When the gang member exited the store, Huynh was shot in the face.

The jury's decision for a death penalty is only a recommendation, which means Broward Circuit Judge Paul Backman can overturn it. However, it's rare for judges to go against a jury's decision once it's been made.

Backman will hear final arguments from prosecutors and the defense on July 8.

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