|Indiana death chamber|
The Senate responded to last year's murder in a Purdue classroom with a bill allowing the death penalty for shootings in schools or during worship services.
A House committee has approved one expansion of the death penalty, but put another on hold.
The Senate responded to last year’s murder of a Purdue teaching assistant in his classroom with a bill allowing the death penalty for school shootings or shootings during worship services.
But Public Defender Council executive director Larry Landis says the bill would break new and questionable legal ground by allowing the death penalty based not on the method of killing or the character of the killer or victim, but on where the murder took place.
“I don’t think arbitrarily saying if it’s a building it’s gonna be subject to the death penalty,” Landis says, “but if it’s a school gymnasium used for basketball, and somebody breaks in and shoots one of the basketball players, does that count? So you can get all kinds of issues where you say, ‘Wait a minute.’”
And Landis says an attempt to limit the bill’s impact to hours when classes or church services are actually in session instead could make the bill too vague.
Committee Chairman Thomas Washburne, R-Inglefield, says he’ll decide next week whether to hold a committee vote.
The committee did unanimously endorse a bill allowing the death penalty for beheadings.
Sen. Brent Steele, R-Bedford, says Indiana law allows the death penalty if a body is dismembered after death, but says a court has ruled that doesn’t apply if the dismemberment is the act of killing itself.
Approval by the full House would send the bill to Gov. Mike Pence.
Source: Indiana Public Media, April 2, 2015
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