Breaking news: A Denton County jury decided on a sentence of life without parole for convicted killer Dan Greco early this afternoon. Read the latest coverage here.
Jurors returned to court Tuesday morning to hear closing arguments and began deliberating the punishment for Daniel Greco, the Little Elm man who was convicted of capital murder last Wednesday in the death of Anjanette Harris and their unborn child.
On Monday, both the Denton County District Attorney’s Office and Greco’s defense attorneys rested, setting up on Tuesday what is expected to be the final day of the punishment phase in a trial that has lasted two weeks.
Judge Jonathan Bailey, of Denton County’s 431st District Court, gave jurors the option Monday afternoon to either start deliberating then or start up Tuesday morning. They chose the latter.
Now a convicted murderer, Greco — who strangled to death a pregnant Harris in March 2016, dumped her body and planned to destroy the evidence — faces either the death penalty or life in Texas prison without the possibility of parole.
Deciding Greco’s sentence will not be as simple as casting a vote for either option.
The jury will have to answer two questions: Did the evidence presented by the state prove Greco will continue to be a violent threat to society, and were there any circumstances in Greco’s life that warrant him life in prison rather than the death penalty? A combination of yes to the first and no to the second means Greco will be sentenced to death. A no to the first or yes to the second means Greco will be sentenced to life without the possibility of parole.
Since the punishment phase of the trial began Friday, jurors have heard testimony from Greco’s friends and loved ones, including his mother and former sex partners. There has been testimony from Denton County Jail staff and experts who’ve weighed in on whether Greco remains a threat.
On Monday, forensic psychologist Randall Price of Dallas testified and, responding to a defense attorney’s questions, told the jury that Greco’s murder conviction does not mean he’ll be a danger to anybody while he’s in prison. He said he reviewed records from Greco’s three-year Denton County Jail incarceration and found no reason to opine that Greco will continue to be a threat to others while in prison.
If Greco is sentenced to death, he’ll have hardly any interaction with other Texas Department of Criminal Justice inmates, compared with him becoming a general-population inmate under a sentence of life without parole.
Sheriff’s Deputy Sgt. Mary Inman, who places county inmates in categories based on such factors as their charges, histories and medical needs, said that while Greco has been incarcerated in the jail, he has never been disciplined for a violent offense.
Prosecutors’ only counterargument on that front is a report made by another inmate who claimed Greco threatened to kill him with a razor blade. That report, however, was unfounded, Inman said. She said the inmate who reported that was reassigned to another pod away from Greco for security reasons but said Greco was not proven to have done anything wrong.
Citing jail letters to and from Greco, prosecutors say Greco, who told investigators after Harris’ death that he killed her in a drug-infused bondage-sex accident, plans to use drugs such as synthetic marijuana while in Texas prison and has been writing sexually explicit notes to women with whom he previously had sex. Two of the women said in court Friday that Harris’ murder “could have been me.”
Officials identified Bridgette Antoinette Forte, 39, as the victim in Friday’s shooting in Denton.
The Tarrant County Medical Examiner’s Office said Forte died of multiple gunshot wounds and ruled her death a homicide.
Public records, including Forte’s voter registration, show she had lived in Clarksville, Texas, before moving to Denton earlier this year. The Red River County seat, Clarksville (population 3,285) is about 150 miles northeast of Denton.
Denton police arrested Anton Thorp, 39, on a charge of murder in connection with the case. According to the arrest affidavit, Thorp’s ex-wife called 911 first, just after noon Friday, to report that Thorp had shot his fiancee. As police were en route to the 3100 block of Kappwood Court, they received a second call from Thorp. In that call, Thorp said he had killed Forte, according to the affidavit.
Thorp surrendered and was initially transported to the city jail without incident. According to the affidavit, Thorp agreed to speak with investigators in an interview room at the jail, where he admitted to shooting and killing Forte. He was later transferred to the Denton County Jail.
Investigators found fired shell casings near Forte’s body and noted multiple gunshot wounds, according to the affidavit.
State court records show Thorp was arrested in 2008 on a charge of assault causing bodily injury, family violence, which is a Class A misdemeanor. The charge was filed by the Collin County District Attorney’s Office in connection with a family violence incident in March 2006. Thorp pleaded guilty to a lesser charge and received deferred adjudication.
Thorp remains in the Denton County Jail, with bail set at $50,000.