CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) — In the aftermath of recent law enforcement deaths in West Virginia, some are calling for the return of the death penalty, and Gov. Jim Justice (R-WV) is “1,000% supportive.”
This was brought up with the death of Sgt. Cory Maynard, who was killed in an ambush in the Beech Creek Road area on Friday, June 2, according to the West Virginia State Police (WVSP). Timothy Kennedy, 29, of Matewan, is the man accused of killing Maynard and injuring one other person.
West Virginia abolished the death penalty in 1965 but with the deaths of Sgt. Maynard, Nicholas County Deputy Tom Baker and Charleston Police Officer Cassie Johnson, supporters are saying the State should bring it back.
In 2023, Gov. Justice signed a bill into law that would extend the prison sentences for those responsible for first responder deaths called “The Patrol Officer Cassie Marie Johnson Memorial Act.”
With Republican supermajorities in both the House and the Senate, Gov. Justice said he supports a death penalty bill.
“The very first person that you call, you know, when you got a problem. The very, very, very first people we reach out to and, if one of them is murdered such as this, I would be very supportive,” Gov. Justice said. “I don’t know how I can say it any more straight up than that.”
Right now, the Illinois Legislature is debating a bill to bring back the death penalty for those who are convicted of killing a first responder. Meanwhile, Congress is considering a bill that would make it a federal crime to kill any state or local law enforcement officer, and it would carry the federal death penalty as punishment.