[Deathpenalty]death penalty news --- GEORGIA, IOWA
j_sommer at gmx.net
Fri Apr 8 19:54:06 CDT 2005
death penalty news
April 8, 2005
'Aggravated circumstances' led to death penalty decision - DA seeks capital
punishment in slaying of Pendergrass officer
Killing a working policeman is such a heinous crime that Piedmont District
Attorney Tim Madison decided last week to seek the death penalty for the
man accused of killing a Pendergrass officer.
Richard Whitaker, 27, of Flowery Branch, faces charges of felony murder,
aggravated assault on a peace officer, possession of fire-arms by a
convicted felon and five others. Police officer Chris Ruse was shot and
killed Dec. 29.
Madison filed a notice of intent March 31 with the Jackson County Superior
Court that cites three reasons for seeking the toughest possible punishment
"After we reviewed the case and interviewed the witnesses, it appeared
there were two occasions of aggravated circumstance, one for murder and the
second for murder to avoid a lawful arrest (of Whitaker himself)," Madison
"To seek the death penalty there has to be at least one and in this case
there were two," he said.
A third factor in the decision is that Whitaker allegedly committed the
crime while out on bond after a conviction for possession of
methamphetamine and possession of a firearm during the commission of a
felony, according to the notice.
The trial's next step will be a first appearance hearing followed by an
arraignment, which should happen sometime in the next 60 days, Madison said.
The other man with Whitaker during the incident, Nolan Leon Chauvin IV,
pleaded guilty to lesser charges last month.
As part of Chauvin's plea bargain, he has agreed to testify against
Whitaker, Madison said.
Whitaker and Chauvin are being held in the Jackson County jail without bond.
Ruse was 45 at the time of the Dec. 29 shooting, which happened about one
mile from the Hall County border on U.S. 129. Authorities said Ruse had
attempted to pull over a pickup truck for a traffic violation.
(source: The Gainesville Times)
McKibben Calls for Debate on Death Penalty
Currently, conviction on each such offense is punishable by life in prison
without parole. Iowa does not have a death penalty.
"The toughest punishment we have in Iowa is life without parole," said
McKibben. "We simply can't stack up multiple life without parole penalties
and have it mean something to these criminals. Clearly, the possibility of
life without parole wasn't enough to deter Roger Bentley. We need to have a
serious debate in the Legislature about instituting the death penalty for
offenders like Bentley."
McKibben also called on the Senate to take action on measures proposed
earlier this week by Senate Republicans that would target sex offenders.
Those proposals include the following: increasing penalties for the offense
of lascivious acts with a child, more treatment for offenders while they're
incarcerated, requiring mandatory supervision after sex offenders are
released from prison, requiring those on the sex offender registry to
provide DNA samples and restricting sex offenders from residing within
1,000 feet from schools and day care centers.
On Thursday, the Senate Judiciary Committee appointed a bipartisan
subcommittee to work on developing legislation aimed toughening Iowa's sex
offender laws. McKibben, who was appointed to the committee, said future
legislation must include these proposals.
The subcommittee will be co-chaired by Sens. Chuck Larson (R-Cedar Rapids)
and Bob Dvorsky (D-Coralville). Members on the committee include McKibben,
Nancy Boettger (R-Harlan), Wally Horn (D-Cedar Rapids) and Gene Fraise
In addition to the Senate proposals, the legislation developed by the
subcommittee could also include items from a sex offender bill approved by
the House on Wednesday.
"Sex offenders are among the most monstrous criminals in our society and
they must be dealt with seriously," said McKibben. "The state needs to
ensure its taking every step to protect our children from these sexual
(source: Mid Iowa Enterprise)
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