Irwin Pentland found guilty of capital murder

Guilty for capital murder; that was the verdict on Wednesday for a man charged with murder of an Austin IBM executive.

Irwin Ernie Pentland sat quietly during closing arguments in his capital murder trial. Prosecutors and defense attorneys provided jurors with two distinctively different scenarios to consider.

“It’s a one trick pony that’s what we used to say one trick pony,” said Defense Attorney Jeff Senter.

Assistant DA Jeremy Sylestine countered by saying,  “He (Pentland) is the only suspect in this case with the means to do it. He is the only suspect in this case with the motive to do it.”

Ernie Pentland is accused of murdering his friend and IBM executive Phil Liberty in 2015. Defense attorneys admit the case against their client looks bad but argued it’s mostly built on circumstantial evidence.

“Not only no weapon, no witness no confession no gunshot residue no fingerprints no blood stain DNA ...”, said Senter.

Sylestine had a quick response to the assessment by the Defense.

“I guess by that  account nothing happened.”

Prosecutors admit they don’t have a murder weapon - but argued Pentland was motivated by his growing debt.

“What happened here folks is, this man got desperate, he needed money and that will drive you to do terrible and horrible things, it will even drive you to steal from your friends, your best friend,” said Sylestine. 

The jury was also reminded how Pentland, after allegedly commuting the murder - bought time to clean up the scene by picking up Liberty’s grandson from daycare so no one in the family would think anything was wrong.

A pivotal point in the trial came Monday. It involved surprising details of a jail house conversation. Travis County inmate Johnny Gilbert testified Pentland wanted him to take the blame for the murder in return for future jailhouse favors.

“Me and him started walking around and he would tell me what I needed to know about the crime,” said Gilbert when he testified Monday.

After deliberating for several hours the jury finally made a decision. Guilty Capital Murder.

In the victim statement phase the most powerful came from Pentland’s own daughter.

“I don’t think that you will ever appreciate just how much you hurt us,” said Anne Pentland.

Phil Liberty’s ex wife also spoke to Pentland and later told Fox 7 the verdict will help with the healing process.

“It does get you closer to closure because we have been living with this for two years and we know that Ernie Pentland is not on the streets and is not going to be on the streets and so we are safe and that is a closure of sorts there,” said Spring Liberty. 

Pentland was sentenced to life in prison. The death penalty was not an option. He is expected to appeal the verdict. 

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