CrimProf Blog

Editor: Kevin Cole
Univ. of San Diego School of Law

Saturday, December 25, 2004

VA Attorney General Seeks to Increase the Availability of the Death Penalty

Va Besides Texas, Virginia has executed more people in the modern era of the death penalty than any other state.  But VA Attorney General Jerry Kilgore hopes to increase its availability by dissolving the "triggerman" requirement, which limits the sentence's availabilty to the actual killer in a homicide case as opposed to offenders who are involved on some other level.  Kilgore says his legislative proposal for the upcoming General Assembly in VA is a response to the sniper trial, in which the brains of the operation, John Allen Muhammad, appears not to have actually fired the shots.  As a result, the prosecutors in the trial had to rely in part on an anti-terrorism law to ensure the death penalty's availability for Mr. Muhammad, because VA's triggerman requirement precluded its applicability.  A spokesman for Kilgore, Timothy Murtaugh, noted that "23 of 38 states with the death penalty lack comparable restrictions"...and Kilgore hopes to "bring [Virginia] into the majority of death penalty states" by allowing prosecutors and juries to decide on a case-by-case basis if convictees are culpable enough for death, based on their level of involvement in each case. More... [Mark Godsey]

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