Sentencing hearing begins today for man convicted of killing Georgetown police officer

A hearing that will determine whether Derrick Powell gets the death penalty for the shooting death of a Georgetown police officer will begin Monday morning in Sussex County Superior Court.  The town and its police department await the outcome. 

On the day of the verdict, Police Chief William Topping became emotional as he discussed the impact of the killing of officer Chad Spicer on the force.  He said they always wonder what could have been done differently. 

Spicer was shot September 1st, 2009 while in his patrol car after he and his partner pulled over a vehicle containing three suspects in a previous shooting outside of the McDonald’s restaurant on Route 113.  That shooting resulted from a planned drug deal that evolved into an attempted robbery.

During the trial, a series of text messages was shown to the jury indicating the level of planning among Derrick Powell, Christopher Reeves and Luis Flores during the hours leading up to the robbery attempt.  After being pulled over in Georgetown’s Kimmeytown neighborhood, Reeves fled the vehicle when the gunshot was fired.  Powell also left the scene but was caught a short time later.  Flores testified he got out of the car and tried to assist Spicer as he struggled to breathe.

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Georgetown has a 16-member police force, and the chief says the small community is in no way immune to drug-dealing, robbery, burglary and other crime.  “As the economic situation in the United States continues to decline, they’re responding more and more to these types of crimes,” Topping says.

Reflecting later on the trial, Chief Topping says he gives tremendous credit to the Georgetown community for holding together in the year-and-a-half since the incident.  He says officers kept the needs of the family in mind as well by making sure lunch and dinner were prepared for them during the trial, which lasted nearly three weeks.

“We’re trying to take care of them and we will continue to do whatever it is they need,” according to Topping.

Judge T. Henley Graves granted requests Thursday from the state and defense counsel to delay the penalty phase until Monday morning at 9:00 a.m.  It is expected to last several days.  The impact of the crime on the community, and the background of Derrick Powell, are likely to be the focus of testimony.

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