After being immersed for 15 months in the defense of Robert Shulman, who in March had been convicted of triple murder, his two court-appointed lawyers were devastated when a Suffolk County jury took only five hours on May 6 to sentence their client to death.

The death verdict “left us in shock — it was a personal rejection of everything we had put into the case,” said Paul Gianelli, the lead assigned counsel, who had tried to save Mr. Shulman’s life with a three-hour plea.