The Associated Press reports that a jury has spared the life of a soldier convicted of killing his wife and a cop. In Manassas, Virginia, a jury deadlocked on determining whether an Army staff sergeant convicted of murdering his wife and a police officer should be executed.
On Thursday morning, the jury was split 6-6 on whether to sentence Ronald Hamilton, 34, to death. This was after 12 hours of deliberation over a three-day period. According to Virginia law, when a jury can’t make a unanimous decision for the death penalty, a life sentence in prison without parole is imposed.
Since 2011, no Virginia jury has successfully imposed the death sentence.
Hamilton was convicted of capital murder for fatally shooting his wife, Crystal Hamilton, and Officer Ashley Guindon. Guindon was working her first shift as a rookie after being sworn in to the department. Hamilton first killed his wife in their home in 2016, then shot the three officers who responded to the call. Guidon didn’t survive, but the two others survived their injuries.
Prosecutors wanted the death penalty for Hamilton’s actions, and the two surviving officers testified at the two-month long trial.
David McKeown, one of the officers, said he had kicked open the house door to check on Crystal after Hamilton denied entry to the home. Hamilton was found with a military rifle and shot the officers.
Defense attorneys urged the jury to spare Hamilton’s life, emphasizing his service career and two tours in Iraq.
Prosecutors asked the judge to instruct the jury to continue to deliberate, but the defense claimed that it would be inappropriate in a death penalty case. The judge determined the jury was deadlocked and that the mandatory life sentence would be imposed.
*Photo credit Associated Press