Powell jury recommends death penalty in split decision

Seven of twelve jurors say the man convicted of killing Georgetown Police Officer Chad Spicer should face the death penalty.

The same jury that found 24-year-old Derrick Powell guilty on February 8th heard five-and-a-half days of testimony and arguments in the penalty phase.  Prosecutors and defense attorneys delivered their final arguments, and the jury returned in less than three hours with its decision.

Seven jurors felt the state’s aggravating factors outweighed the defense’s mitigating factors.  Five panel members felt the state had not met that burden.

“It’s not a closure,” said Chad Spicer’s mother, Ruth Ann Spicer.  “But, it’s a part of Chad that we are ready to put to peace.  Knowing that justice was served, I think now we all can rest and move on.”

  • WHYY thanks our sponsors — become a WHYY sponsor

Mrs. Spicer and her husband Norman attended every day of the trial since it began in January.

Georgetown Police Chief William Topping said “there is no victory – Chad is gone.” 

“No matter what happens to Derrick Powell, Chad will still be gone,”  the Chief said.  “For me, the Derrick Powell part is over, and now we can concentrate fully on honoring Chad and keeping his memory alive in Georgetown.”

Defense attorney Stephanie Tsantes would not say how Powell has been handling the trial.  During her closing arguments in the penalty phase, she argued for mitigating circumstances by highlighting previous testimony concerning the history of physical and emotional abuse at the hands of both of Powell’s parents, his history of drug use starting with marijuana at age seven, and indications of brain damage due to blows to the head and possible oxygen depletion during birth.

Prosecutors Martin Cosgrove and Paula Ryan said in their closings that Powell made conscious decisions to have a gun, and to use it during an attempted robbery of a drug dealer at the Georgetown McDonalds on September 1st 2009, the shooting that Spicer was investigating when he was shot..

Ryan said a lot of people grow up with a difficult childhood, but “they don’t all grow up to be murderers.”

Judge T. Henley Graves will formally sentence Powell May 20th.  Powell could be sentenced to life in prison without probation or parole, or death by lethal injection.

The judge said jurors did not want to discuss the case with the media.

WHYY is your source for fact-based, in-depth journalism and information. As a nonprofit organization, we rely on financial support from readers like you. Please give today.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

Together we can reach 100% of WHYY’s fiscal year goal