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Lehigh Valley

Defense attorneys try to avoid death penalty for convicted cop killer

Defense, prosecution rest in penalty phase of Hitcho trial

EASTON, Pa. - As testimony in the sentencing phase of the George Hitcho Jr. murder trial wound down Wednesday afternoon, the jury learned Hitcho and Robert Lasso crossed paths twice before the defendant shot and killed him on Aug. 11, 2011.

Lasso arrested Hitcho in 2006 for possession of drug paraphernalia, and he was ultimately charged with the misdemeanor offense.

They met again in 2008 when Lasso responded to a call from Hitcho's neighbor, Lyndell Boger, who said Hitcho threatened to shoot her 14-year-old son if he didn't stop throwing a tennis ball against a wall outside Hitcho's home. According to Boger, Hitcho said he would bring the boy onto his porch and shoot him there. That way, when the police came, he could simply tell them the boy entered his property.

Earlier Wednesday, a forensic psychologist testified that Hitcho has brain damage after suffering head injuries in a series of accidents, plus from abuse of alcohol and drugs. That psychologist testified he believes the brain damage contributed to the shooting of Lasso.

The psychologist also said Hitcho suffers from a cognitive disorder that causes him to be disillusioned.

The defense is hoping to convince jurors that Hitcho only deserves life in prison. Northampton County prosecutors are seeking the death penalty.

Both sides rested Wednesday afternoon and will present closing arguments Thursday morning. The jury will also begin deliberations Thursday.

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