Virginia Prosecutor to Seek Death Penalty in Murder of State Trooper
The Roanoke Times recently reported on the verdict that a Dinwiddie County jury reached. After eight hours of deliberation, the jury voted unanimously to find Russell Brown III guilty of capital murder. Brown was charged with the murder of Virginia State Police Master Trooper Junius Walker in March 2013. Brown’s defense centered on whether he had the mental capacity to know that what he was doing was wrong and whether he was able to appreciate the consequences. The jury must have believed that the state proved that Brown was guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. The capital murder charge means that the jury thought that Brown “willfully, deliberately and with premeditation committed capital murder for the purpose of interfering with the performance of the trooper’s official duties.” However, they only would have needed to agree that it was more likely than not that he was legally insane at the time of the crime for his defense to have been successful.
The jury also found Brown guilty of other charges stemming from the shootout between him and police, including a charge of attempted murder of another police officer on the scene. The Dinwiddie County prosecutor has said that she plans to go after the death penalty for Brown. He could alternatively be sentenced to life in prison.
The Death Penalty in Virginia
Virginia has executed more people through the death penalty than any other state. There are many crimes that make someone convicted of the crime eligible for the death penalty in Virginia. These are called “capital” crimes and include the murder of a pregnant person whom the defendant knows is pregnant, murder for monetary gain, the killing of anyone 14 or younger by anyone 21 and over, murder while incarcerated, and many other kinds and circumstances of murder.
In Virginia, capital punishment can be carried out through lethal injection or with the electric chair. The state allows those sentenced to the death penalty to choose which method they would prefer. The Governor of Virginia, Terry McAuliffe, has proposed a bill that would make the electric chair the automatic method of execution when the drugs for lethal injection are not available. There has been a shortage of lethal injection drugs recently, which has impacted some death sentences in the states that still practice capital punishment.
It is important to remember that the death penalty is constantly undergoing constitutional challenges and that changes to what is legally allowed are happening all the time. There has been a lot of controversy over the death penalty as more and more states outlaw it.
Contact Our Leesburg Virginia Criminal Defense Lawyers for Help
If you are charged with a crime in Virginia, whether it is a capital offense or not, you should have a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney on your side to help defend you against the charges. Our experienced criminal defense attorneys at Simms Showers, LLP in Leesburg, Virginia can help to provide the criminal defense that you need. We represent clients in Leesburg, Loudoun County and throughout northern Virginia.