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America Is Stuck With the Death Penalty for (At Least) a Generation

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With Justice Anthony Kennedy's retirement, the national fight to abolish capital punishment will have to go local.
When the Supreme Court revived capital punishment in 1976, just four years after de facto abolishing it, the justices effectively took ownership of the American death penalty and all its outcomes. They have spent the decades since then setting its legal and constitutional parameters, supervising its general implementation, sanctioning its use in specific cases, and brushing aside concerns about its many flaws.
That unusual role in the American legal system is about to change. With Justice Anthony Kennedy’s retirement from the court this summer, the Supreme Court will lose a heterodox jurist whose willingness to cross ideological divides made him the deciding factor in many legal battles. In cases involving the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment, his judgment often meant the difference between life and death for hundreds of death-row pr…

Idaho jury votes for death penalty after officer killed

Jonathan Renfro
The same jury last month found Jonathan Renfro guilty of first-degree murder for the May 2015 killing of Coeur d'Alene Police Sgt. Greg Moore

COEUR D'ALENE, Idaho — A jury has unanimously decided that a 29-year-old man who shot and killed a northern Idaho police officer should be sentenced to death.

The 12-member panel reached the decision Saturday morning.

The same jury last month found Jonathan Renfro guilty of first-degree murder for the May 2015 killing of Coeur d'Alene Police Sgt. Greg Moore. He was also found guilty of robbery, removing a firearm from a police officer and concealment of evidence.

The mitigation phase of the trial began Monday and concluded Friday afternoon with defense attorneys arguing why Renfro shouldn't get the death penalty. The jury was sequestered while reaching its decision.

During the trial, jurors watched a video of the shooting recorded by Moore's body camera. Moore was checking on a suspicious person while patrolling a neighborhood when he was gunned down, court documents say. He died later that evening.

"Renfro is observed shooting Sgt. Moore," a detective wrote in an affidavit that describes images from the camera worn by Moore. "After being shot, Sgt. Moore falls to the ground, causing his body camera to point skyward. A short time later, Renfro's face comes back into the frame. Renfro is seen using a flashlight while searching Sgt. Moore's person."

Later, authorities said, an officer from nearby Post Falls, Idaho who was listening to radio traffic about the shooting, saw a Coeur d'Alene police car race by at about 90 mph, so he gave chase close to the Washington state line.

The officer found the patrol car abandoned, and the Washington State Patrol and Kootenai County Sheriff's Office helped set up a perimeter. A police dog found Renfro about two hours later hiding under a tractor-trailer.

Renfro has a long criminal record and was on probation at the time of the shooting. During the trial, prosecutors said Renfro feared going back to jail if Moore discovered that he was illegally carrying a firearm. So Renfro used the firearm to kill Moore, they said.

Renfro's sentencing hearing is scheduled for Monday in 1st District Court.

Moore, the son of a police officer, was a husband and father of two and a 16-year veteran of the city police department. He began his career as a deputy sheriff in Asotin County, Washington, in late 1997 and started in Coeur d'Alene in 1999.

Source: Associated Press, Police One, November 4, 2017


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"One is absolutely sickened, not by the crimes that the wicked have committed,
but by the punishments that the good have inflicted." -- Oscar Wilde

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