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CHILDREN PLEAD FOR DAD'S LIFE

A jury will have to ignore the tender words of John Blanchard's children if they decide to sentence the man to death next week.

Blanchard's son and daughter took the stand Wednesday and said they didn't want their dad to die, no matter what he did to their mother."Michael, do you still love your father?" asked defense attorney Wendy Lewis.

"Yes," the 13-year-old boy responded.

"Michael, do you want this jury to sentence your father to death?"

"No," said the boy, as tears came to his eyes.

The jury last week rejected defense claims that Blanchard strangled his ex-wife, Patricia, during an uncontrollable episode of rage and jealousy on Sept. 19, 1995. The six-man, six-woman panel must now decide whether to sentence him to die, to life in prison without parole or life with parole.

Defense attorneys called the two children to the stand hoping to mitigate effects of the heinous actions of their client and his spiteful confession after the killing.

"For months I planned to kill her and I did it tonight. NO REGRETS!" Blanchard scrawled on a statement for police following his early morning arrest.

During an interview later, he described how he strangled his ex-wife, saying, "I couldn't get her to (expletive deleted) die! I'd let got and she still be (expletive deleted) wiggling."

Prosecutors argue Blanchard deserves the death penalty because he broke into the woman's house, tried to rape her and extended her death throes. They showed the jury a graphic video of the murder scene Thursday before resting their case.

The seven-minute recording displayed extreme close-up shots of Patricia Blanchard's body as John Blanchard had left it. At least one juror shook his head back and forth after the scenes concluded; others watched in complete stillness.

The case is the first in recent Utah history where prosecutors have asked a jury to send a man to the execution chamber for killing his spouse. Generally, such cases lack the aggravating circumstances required under Utah law for a capital conviction.

Defense attorney Jerry Mooney argued before Blanchard's trial concluded that he was guilty only of manslaughter because he was under extreme emotional distress at the time of the killing.

However, the jury returned the capital conviction. In order to do that, they had to unanimously agree Blanchard committed burglary, rape or attempted rape in the course of killing his ex-wife.

Jurors are expected to begin deliberations over Blanchard's fate late Monday.