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Bill would bring back the death penalty in cases where police officers are murdered

State Senator Bill DeSteph has submitted legislation that would restore Capital Punishment in cases where a police officer is murdered in the line of duty.

RICHMOND, Va. — The death penalty could be coming back to Virginia.

State Senator Bill DeSteph (R-Virginia Beach) has submitted legislation that would restore capital punishment in cases where a police officer is murdered in the line of duty.

It was just last March that then-Governor Ralph Northam signed HB 2263, abolishing the death penalty which, according to the American Bar Association, made Virginia the 23rd state overall -- and first southern state -- to repeal the practice.

According to statistics from the Death Penalty Information Center, Virginia had carried out 1,390 executions since 1608. 

In the modern era, it was second only to Texas, with 113 executions since 1976. 

Of the 377 individuals that Virginia executed for murder in the 20th century, 296 were Black, according to other data from the Death Penalty Information Center.

The last execution in Virginia took place in 2017.

But now, just 10 months after its elimination, DeSteph wants to bring the death penalty back.

His Senate Bill 379 would return Capital Murder to the books for "the willful, deliberate, and premeditated killing of a law-enforcement officer...when such killing is for the purpose of interfering with the performance of his official duties."

In an interview with 13News Now, DeSteph said: "I think that's the right thing to do. I think power projection is a force deterrent. And it's time to put that out there and say, 'We've had enough.' We've got to be tough on crime. If you kill a cop, you're going to get the death penalty."

But DeSteph acknowledges that this bill will face an uphill fight in the Democratic Party-controlled State Senate.

"I know in the end, the bill is going to get killed," he said.

The bill has been sent to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

DeSteph said that no date has been set yet for a hearing.

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