A bill that would make it mandatory in Virginia for convicted cop killers to be sentenced to a minimum of life in prison is headed to Gov. Ralph Northam’s desk.
Senate Bill 1501, the legislation which passed the Virginia Senate and is going through its final readings in the Virginia House of Delegates, would make it mandatory for anyone 18 years of age or older who is convicted of killing of a police officer to serve life in prison.
Sen. Bill Carrico (R-Bristol), who sponsored the bill, told WTVR the bill is going through three readings in the House before its voted on and sent to Northam for approval.
“We’ve got to send a clear message in Virginia, if you’re going to attack our law enforcement officers you’re going to spend the rest of your life in prison or you’re going to die and I think that helps us kind of take that target off of their back,” Carrico said.
“I have a sense of relief now that we’re out of committee and knowing how strong it came out of the committee [with] only three descending votes, which means on the floor I feel comfortable that we’ll have a very strong vote coming off the floor,” he added.
Sen. Carrico and Del. Todd Pillion (R-Abingdon) drafted the legislation upping penalties for murdering law enforcement officers after hearing the story of Jaime Walter, whose husband Mike was fatally shot while on duty in Richmond, Virginia, on May 26, 2017.
Jaime Walter said her husband’s killer got all but 36 years of his sentence suspended, and wanted to seek “justice” for her late husband.
“That’s justice and that’s being held accountable for your actions and that’s what we teach our kids and now once the Governor signs this I can say that’s what’s going to happen,” Jaime said of the bill.
Other states have similar penalties on the books for those convicted of killing members of law enforcement.