Death Penalty a Possibility in Police Officer Death
Posted: Tuesday, November 19th, 2013 at 12:43 pm
On October 14, 2013, the Supreme Court of Washington ruled that prosecutors in the Christopher Monfort case may seek the death penalty. Ruling unanimously, the Supreme Court effectively overturned a February ruling, issued by the Kings County Superior Court, denying prosecutors the option of seeking the death penalty.
Christopher Monfort has been accused of murdering Officer Tim Brenton and maiming his colleague. On October 31, 2009, the two officers were sitting in their patrol car when Monfort shot at them. Monfort is also accused of several incidents of arson, which occurred in the same month. These incidents include firebombing four police vehicles and detonating additional small bombs when rescue teams arrived to help potentially wounded individuals. The prosecution claims that Monfort’s apartment contained a screed against police brutality as well as a significant trove of weapons and additional explosives. He faces charges of aggravated murder and attempted first-degree murder.
The prosecution announced shortly after Monfort’s trial began that they would seek the death penalty. Prosecutor Dan Sattenberg reported that he had conducted interviews with individuals close to Monfort to seek mitigating evidence, but had not obtained any. The defense countered that Mr. Sattenberg should receive mitigating evidence from the defense and moved to counter the motion to pursue the death penalty.
The Kings County Superior Court characterized Prosecutor Sattenberg’s mitigation investigation as a “flawed, practically useless.” Prosecutor Sattenberg countered that the defense had been given 10 months to investigate, conduct interviews, and provide necessary mitigating evidence, but did not do so.
Ultimately, though the Kings County Superior Court supported the defense’s argument, the Supreme Court of Washington overruled the court’s judgment. The case is scheduled to continue its trial.
According to Washington State law, mental health issues, disease, or mental defects may be submitted to mitigate a death penalty sentence. After his arrest, Christopher Monfort was left paralyzed from the waist down when a bullet hit his lower back. His defense team plans to mount an insanity defense on his behalf.