A national police union is asking Jefferson County Circuit Judge Tommy Nail to override a jury's recommendation and condemn Kerry Spencer to death for killing three police officers.
Sgt. Allen Treadaway, president of the Birmingham Fraternal Order of Police chapter, hand-delivered to the judge a resolution passed at the national conference in New Orleans in August with the unanimous vote of 4,000 delegates representing more than 320,000 police officers across the country.
The national FOP's auxiliary group, made up mostly of law enforcement spouses, also passed a resolution calling for the execution of Spencer.
"Our purpose was not to make a political statement. It was not to have a public debate over the death penalty. It was to let the judge know in this case how the law enforcement community feels about this issue," Treadaway said.
"The judge has seen the pain from the families involved in this tragedy, but we wanted him to know how painful this has been for all law enforcement and how important it is to us."
Nail will sentence Spencer on Friday.
A jury in June convicted him on four counts of capital murder in the deaths of Birmingham police officers Carlos Owen, 58, Harley Chisholm III, 40, and Charles Robert Bennett, 33. The fourth capital murder charge is for killing two or more people during one act.
The officers were killed June 17, 2004, while trying to serve a months-old misdemeanor warrant on Nathaniel Woods, Spencer's roommate, at their Ensley drug house. Woods will be tried in October.
The jury took only four hours to convict Spencer, but deliberated 2½ days before recommending the judge sentence him to life in prison without the possibility of parole. State law requires at least a 10-2 vote for a death recommendation. At least 7 votes are needed to recommend life without parole.
The recommendation outraged Birmingham area law officers and officials. Alabama Attorney General Troy King said he was "shocked and sickened" by jury's decision.
"State law allows a judge to override a jury and we feel that's certainly fitting in this situation. We know the jury certainly struggled with this issue," Treadaway said. "It is our position if ever a crime warrants the death penalty, this certainly is it."
Treadaway said officers and the union remained quiet on the issue during the trial. Now that sentencing is near, he feels the need to speak out.
"We think it's important not only to punish someone for taking the life a police officer, let alone three, who is out there protecting us," he said, "but the message must be sent that the taking the life a police officer will result in death because as we know on the streets we work out here there are people who don't fear, as they put it, three hot meals and a cot."
I find it almost unbelieveable that a jury from Alabama would not impose the death penalty for a thug who, shot and then executed 3 police officers.