Utah lawmaker wants death penalty for killing COs, other first responders

A Utah bill would make killers of first responders eligible for the death penalty


By CorrectionsOne Staff

SALT LAKE CITY — A Utah bill would make killers of first responders eligible for the death penalty.

The Deseret News reports that under the bill, killing first responders called to an emergency would result in an aggravated murder charge eligible for capital punishment. The list of aggravated murder victims in the measure includes corrections officers, ambulance personnel and security officers.

In this Monday, March 2, 2015, photo, shows Sen. Karen Mayne, a Democrat from West Valley City, on the Senate Floor, at the Utah State Capitol, in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)
In this Monday, March 2, 2015, photo, shows Sen. Karen Mayne, a Democrat from West Valley City, on the Senate Floor, at the Utah State Capitol, in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

"We just don’t know who’s going to get there first," Sen. Karen Mayne told the Senate Judiciary, Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice Committee on Monday. "Sometimes those who would do harm lay in wait."

According to the bill, aggravating circumstances would apply if the officer is on duty, if the killing is related to the victim’s position or if the offender reasonably should have known the victim's position. Prosecutors would decide if those factors apply to the crime.

Some lawmakers believe that passing the bill could threaten Utah’s death penalty law. William Carlson, deputy Salt Lake County district attorney, said that appeals courts in other states have thrown out capital punishment after finding that the list of aggravating factors was too long. Utah law already lists 60 aggravating factors.

The bill was passed 5-1 by the committee and moved to the Senate floor.

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