The jury in the murder trial of Derrick Powell, convicted two weeks ago of killing Georgetown police officer Chad Spicer, recommended the death penalty Wednesday, Feb. 23.
Convicted murderer Derrick Powell’s fate is now in Superior Court Judge T. Henley Graves’ hands, after a majority of the jury voted in favor of the death penalty as his punishment for the murder of Georgetown Police Patrolman Chad Spicer.
Graves will make the decision on or before May 20 to either sentence Powell to death or life in prison for firing the shot that killed Chad Spicer on Sept. 1, 2009. His decision does not have to coincide with the jury. The same jurors that convicted Powell of first-degree murder were tasked with deciding whether or not aggravating circumstance outweighed mitigating, and seven of the 12 voted yes to form the majority.
“This is the most difficult type of trial we have,” Graves told jurors while thanking them for their service.
Reaction in the courtroom was subdued, as Spicer’s parents Ruth Ann and Norman and several other family members sat stoically as the verdict was read. Powell, whose back was to the gallery, also showed little emotion when informed of the decision.
Defense attorney Stephanie Tsantes would not comment on Powell’s state following the verdict, but did say she was hopeful her client would not receive the death penalty.
“It’s a difficult time right now, but I am hopeful that with a 7-to-5 vote the judge will decide on life in prison,” she said.
Ruth Ann Spicer, who did not wish to state whether or not she was for the death penalty, also thanked the jurors for their service. Spicer said she and husband Norman were grateful for the support they have received since the slaying of their son and that justice had been served.
“There isn’t any closure and there probably never will be,” Ruth Ann said. “We’re just satisfied justice is served.”
Early in the day, attorneys painted different pictures of Powell during closing arguments, with prosecutor Martin Cosgrove repeatedly referring to the “murder of Chad Spicer” and Tsantes asking jurors to vote the way of their conscience. Tsantes said Powell, who the defense portrayed as a young adult who never got the help he needed as a child with psychological issues, would benefit from life in prison in a structured environment and did not deserve death.
Prosecutor Paula Ryan, however, disagreed and said Powell would only benefit until something in prison did not go his way.
“Derrick is going to do what Derrick wants to do,” Ryan told jurors. “The defense claims he will do well in a structured environment like prison. And he probably would, until someone says something he doesn’t like, someone disrespects him or someone puts their hands on him. That’s what sets him off, because that’s who he is.”
Prior to reading the verdict, Graves informed the media that jurors would not be available for comment. Ryan and Cosgrove were also not available to the press immediately following the verdict.