I haven't followed the news on Meredith Emerson, the Georgia hiker who was kidnapped and murdered.
Apparently, Michael Hilton agreed to cooperate with police and disclose the location of Meredith in order to avoid the death penalty.
Now on it's face the death penalty did nothing here. However, what leverage would the police have over this guy to find this woman's remains without the death sentence? This guy would be facing life in prison regardless. Finding this woman's remains only ensures his prosecution and sentencing. He would be an idiot to tell the police where her remains would be.
How often does a guilty murderer plead guilty to a crime in order to avoid the death sentence? Especially in Cuyahoga County where they plead out nearly every capital case.
Once again the formula is simple, if you don't commit aggravated murder, you need not worry about the death sentence.