Judge keeps death penalty option in double-murder where police officer was killed

WASHINGTON — In a double-murder case that involved the shooting death of a police officer, the defense fought to get the judge to take the death penalty off the table. But a Prince William County judge ruled that capital punishment will be an option in the case of Ronald Hamilton, whose trial is scheduled for June 2017.

“It’s a capital offense. He’s charged with a capital crime,” said Prince William County Commonwealth’s Attorney Paul Ebert. “And of course the defense always tries to do what they can to prohibit that punishment from being available.”

“The death penalty will be available in this case,” Ebert said.

In Virginia, the willful, deliberate and premeditated murder of a police officer is a capital offense. Also the willful, deliberate and premeditated killing of more than one person during the same crime is a capital offense.

Hamilton is charged with capital murder for the Feb. 27, shooting deaths of his wife Crystal Hamilton and Prince William County Police Officer Ashley Guindon, who was only hours into her very first shift as a police officer and had just been sworn-in the day before she was killed.

The Washington Post reports that the defense tried to sway the judge by claiming that the county goes after the death penalty more often than most other jurisdictions in the state. “That also didn’t prevent the court from ruling the way they did,” Ebert said.

If the jury finds Hamilton guilty Ebert said he will likely seek the death penalty.

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