Prosecutors Seek Death Penalty After Murder of Two Officers

The Riverside County District Attorney’s Office announced this week that they would seek the death penalty against a man charged in the deaths of two police officers. Los Angeles KTLA 5 News reported that the accused had killed two police officers in Palm Springs on October 8, 2016. While not all violent crimes in California will include such a harsh sentence, the circumstances in this case justify the death penalty, according to attorneys prosecuting the case.
Officers Respond to Call: Police received a call regarding a family disturbance from a woman who identified herself as the accused’s mother. When the five officers arrived, the man opened fire, killing two and wounding one; the other two officers were not hit. The perpetrator was charged with two counts of murder, as well as three counts of attempted murder for firing at the three other officers.

Basis for Seeking the Death Penalty

The lead prosecutor in the case decided to pursue special circumstance allegations against the defendant after consulting with other attorneys handling the case. Under California’s special circumstances law, prosecutors may pursue the death penalty if the charges include first degree murder and certain facts are present. Examples include:

•           Murder for financial gain;
•           Multiple murder convictions;
•           Murder by explosive device;
•           Murder of a witness in a civil or criminal case;
•           Murder of a prosecuting attorney, judge, or government official;
•           Murder of a police officer;
•           Lying in wait; and,
•           Other situations as defined by law.

In the current case, prosecutors are seeking the death penalty against the defendant because the murders involved law enforcement officers and the facts show he was lying in wait: He was wearing soft body armor, a possible indication that he was anticipating the arrival of officers and was waiting to ambush them. Plus, he was in possession of armor-piercing ammunition, giving more support to the special circumstance allegation of lying in wait.

Defendant’s Criminal History

According to the KTLA report, the man arrested in connection with the deaths of the two officers is a convicted felon and was in unlawful possession of the weapons and ammunition used in committing the crime. While these facts don’t impact the special circumstances allegations to support the death penalty in this murder case, there may be additional charges pending.

The Officers: The Riverside County Police Department and surrounding community mourns the loss of two honored officers, one of which was a 35-year veteran of the force and planned on a December 2016 retirement. The other was just returning to the force after having a baby.

San Diego Criminal Defense Attorneys are here to help

In San Diego, the criminal penalties for a violent crimes conviction are harsh, especially if law enforcement officers are involved. A criminal background can also count against you when prosecuting attorneys are preparing to pursue their case against you. However, if you retain a qualified criminal defense attorney to represent your interests, you can increase your chances of obtaining a favorable result in court. Please contact a qualified criminal defense attorney in San Diego for more information on defending violent crimes cases.

Ozols Law Firm
8880 Rio San Diego Dr. #22
San Diego, CA