THE TRUE STORY OF GEORGE EMIL BANKS
On June 21, 1983, closing arguments in the case began. Attorney Sklarosky, presented his arguments to the jury in a voice hardly audible at times, displayed particular emotion in addressing the panel, and pointed out that the defendant was in store for numerous restless nights and horrible memories during the balance of his lifetime. The defense lawyer noted the terrible crimes committed by Banks, but reminded the jury that the defendant was, and still is, very sick. Sklarosky challenged the jury to display courage, remembering the fact that, One person can save his (Banks) life.
District Attorney Gillespie countered the defenses passionate appeal with unemotional arguments. The prosecuting attorney focused the jury on the legal issues, arguing that the evidence showed three possible aggravating circumstances. First was Banks prior record; second, his actions endangered others at the time of the killings; and last, that not one, but 13 intentional murders took place at his hands. Gillespie said the evidence showed a "significant history" of violent crimes, stating, He has graduated now. He no longer assaults with intent to kill. He kills 13 times.
Following arguments by the attorneys, Judge Toole instructed the jurors for 25 minutes before releasing them for deliberations. The jury of eight women and four men wasted little time in reaching their verdict. George Banks was found guilty of 12 counts of first-degree murder, one count of third-degree murder, attempted murder, aggravated assault, and one count each of robbery, theft, and endangering the life of another person. Banks said nothing as the jurors, polled individually by request of the defense, affirmed their vote. Following the verdicts, Judge Toole set sentencing for the next day and adjourned the court.
June 22, 1983, Banks, on his 41st birthday, waited in his cell for the jury to decide his fate. As the day wore on, reporters, broadcasters, and spectators kept a vigil. Among those in attendance was Raymond Hall, Sr., the father of victim Raymond Hall, Jr. Nothings going to help us with what weve lost, said the elder Hall as he waited to hear the verdict.
After just five and half hours of deliberation, the jury returned with their verdict. Banks stood emotionless and expressionless as the jury foreman spoke, We the jury find that the defendant, George Emil Banks, has committed state or federal offenses for which a life or death sentence can be imposed. The foreman then read aloud the jurys decree that Banks was to die by execution. As was done the previous day, the jurors were polled individually by request of the defense, affirming their votes. As the second jurist, a 24-year-old woman, affirmed her vote, she was overcome with emotion. Following her statement, Banks blurted out, Its not your fault, maam. You were lied to. A two-hour exhumation would clear me. The young woman sank into the arms of a fellow juror as she took her seat.
Following the jury poll, Judge Toole explained to Banks that the sentence would be reviewed by the Supreme Court as required by law, adding, I sincerely hope that God has touched you and hopefully God will forgive you for what you have done. From this moment on, your life is in the hands of God and the appellate courts.
After Banks left the courtroom, Toole told the jury, The legal journey that you embarked upon has ended. I am sure everyone present, hopefully, understands the pressure and awesome responsibility you have all shouldered. Judge Toole then said that rather than attempting to express his admiration and gratitude via a lengthy dissertation, he would just say, Thank you. He then dismissed the jury.
In the aftermath of sentencing, Al Flora, Jr. stated his reaction, I think the jury displayed more courage than I ever would have. Im sure, to them, justice has been served. Its a decision I will always respect and never second guess. District Attorney Gillespie appeared to have mixed feelings following the verdict. There is no great surge of joy when the death penalty is achieved, my heart goes out to the members of the jury. They are the ones that should be congratulated. They truly were courageous, said Gillespie.
Following the trial, George Banks was remanded to the maximum-security unit of the State Correctional Institute at Huntington where he remained until November of 1985, when he was transferred to the State Correctional Institute at Graterford following a refusal by the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn his verdict.