Cop Killer Sentenced to Death
May 20, 2011
GEORGETOWN, Del. (AP) — A Maryland man convicted of killing a Delaware police officer in 2009 was sentenced to death Friday by a judge who described him as a dangerous career criminal.
Derrick Powell of Cumberland, Md., hung his head but said nothing after Judge. T. Henley Graves imposed the death penalty for the September 2009 murder of Georgetown patrolman Chad Spicer.
Spicer was struck in the face by a single bullet as he sat in the passenger seat of a police cruiser following the pursuit of a car carrying Powell and two other men. The pursuit began after Powell shot at a drug dealer he was trying to rob in the parking lot of a fast food restaurant, jurors were told.
Graves rejected defense arguments that Powell, 24, should be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole because he was not the “worst of the worst,” but the product of an abusive and dysfunctional childhood home.
Graves said there was nothing in the evidence to suggest that Powell was taught to be “a career criminal” or “involved in a drug-selling, gun-carrying world.”
“The sad fact is that too many people are raised in dysfunctional families,” Graves said, adding that most do not devote themselves to a life of crime.
“Mr. Powell did what exactly what he wanted to do, regardless of the consequences,” said the judge, noting that Powell began selling drugs “at a very early age,” then turned to robbery and more violent crimes.
“He is explosive. He is violent. He is a dangerous person,” Graves said, adding that “there are consequences to decisions made in life.”
After reviewing all the evidence and the jury’s 7-5 recommendation that Powell be executed, Graves said he concluded that the aggravating circumstances favoring the death penalty outweighed the mitigating circumstances favoring life without parole.
“The sentence, therefore, must be death,” the judge said, as soft applause from the supporters of Spicer’s family mixed with sobbing from Powell’s mother and stepmother.
“Killing our brother is not going to bring him back,” a young woman shouted outside the courthouse as she got into an SUV with a Maryland license plate.
As they left the courthouse accompanied by Attorney General Beau Biden, Spicer’s parents, Norman and Ruth Ann Spicer, said simply that “justice was served.”