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House of Representatives
Session of 2017 - 2018 Regular Session


Posted: September 20, 2017 09:43 AM
From: Representative Marty Flynn
To: All House members
Subject: Capital Punishment: Non-Unanimous Jury Verdicts
In the near future, I will be introducing legislation that would allow for non-unanimous jury verdicts in capital punishment cases when the victim was a public servant who was killed in the performance of his or her duties or as a result of his or her official position.

In February 2013, at the Canaan federal prison in Wayne County, Jessie Con-ui murdered Corrections Officer Eric Williams, stabbing him more than 200 times and fracturing his skull. At the time, Con-ui was serving an 11-year sentence for trafficking 33 pounds of cocaine and was about to begin serving a life sentence for a gang-related murder in Arizona in 2002. Prosecutors argued the brutality of the attack, as well as Con-ui’s violent past, warranted the death penalty. Instead, an 11-1 split decision resulted in an automatic second life sentence.

The fact that Con-ui will face no punishment for the brutal murder of a corrections officer is deplorable and unacceptable. The message this sends to inmates serving life sentences endangers the lives of correctional officers across the state. While these inmates may feel like they have nothing to lose, it is critical that we do not let this unfortunate tragedy happen again.

Specifically, my legislation only applies to the sentencing phase of a capital punishment case. Once a defendant is convicted of first degree murder, my legislation would allow for non-unanimous jury verdicts of 11-1 for the death penalty when the victim was a public servant killed in the performance of his or her duties or as a result of his or her official position. A public servant includes:
  • Firefighters;
  • Peace officers;
  • Public servants concerned in official detention;
  • Judges;
  • The attorney general of Pennsylvania or deputy attorneys general;
  • District attorneys or assistant district attorneys;
  • Members of the General Assembly;
  • The governor and lieutenant governor;
  • Auditory general;
  • State treasurer;
  • Federal, state or local law enforcement officers; or
  • Persons employed to assist any law enforcement official in the performance of his or her duties.
Please join me in co-sponsoring this very important legislation.

Introduced as HB1934