Pennsylvania residents may have read reports about two African Americans who were shot and killed at a Kentucky supermarket in October. Media outlets reported on Nov. 15 that the 51-year-old white man accused of being the shooter has been indicted by a federal grand jury on firearms and hate crime charges. The man entered not guilty pleas to two murder charges, one count of attempted murder and two counts of wanton endangerment on Nov. 2. The Department of Justice has yet to announce whether or not they will be seeking the death penalty.
The man is said to have entered the Kroger market in Jefferson, Ky., with the intention of killing black people. Police say that they have obtained security camera footage of the man trying to gain admittance to a church with a mostly black congregation just minutes before he allegedly opened fire in the supermarket. Investigators have been unable to identify any motive for the killings other than race, according to reports.
Police were called to the store after a 69-year-old man was shot in the back as he shopped for groceries. Reports indicate that the shooter continued to fire even after his victim had fallen to the ground. The second victim, a 67-year-old woman, was shot and killed in the supermarket's parking lot.
When representing a client who has been accused of committing federal crimes that could carry the death penalty, an experienced criminal defense attorney may seek to reach a negotiated plea agreement that takes capital punishment off the table. Prosecutors are often under great pressure to show no leniency in these cases, but they may also understand that death penalty prosecutions can be ruinously expensive and a conviction can never be guaranteed when a jury is involved.