After Death Penalty Decision, Delaware Supreme Court to Consider - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

After Death Penalty Decision, Delaware Supreme Court to Consider Retroactive Application

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Following a decision this year that found Delaware's death penalty statute to be unconstitutional, the State Supreme Court is set next week to consider the death sentence of Derrick Powell, who was sentenced to death in the killing of a Georgetown police officer.

The court is scheduled on Wednesday to hear arguments from prosecutors and attorneys representing Powell, who was convicted of first-degree murder in the 2009 death of Patrolman Chad Spicer.

But the state supreme court issued a decision in August that ruled Delaware's current death penalty statute violates the sixth amendment of the U.S. Constitution because it allows a judge to sentence a person to death independently of a jury's recommendation.

Attorneys Patrick Collins and Natalie Woloshin wrote in a document requesting the court vacate Powell's death sentence that the sentence "was imposed in violation of his right to due process, his rights under our Delaware Constitution, and his right to be free of cruel and unusual punishments. Finally, executing Mr. Powell when virtually all other repeal and abolition States have retroactively vacated its death sentences would be inhumane and unjust."

How the court rules could make a difference for other death row inmates, said Georgetown Attorney John Brady, who is also Sussex County's outgoing Clerk of the Peace.

"Since Delaware doesn't have an active death penalty, can those people who were sentenced to death be executed?" he said.

A post-conviction appeal from Powell was rejected in May, prior to the supreme court's decision.

Brady expects a thorough examination of the issue from the state supreme court's justices.

"The chief justice, and all the justices for that matter, will be a hot bench, asking a lot of questions: 'Why should we do this? And why should we do that?'" he said. "It's very interesting. We have never faced anything like this in Delaware before."

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