Utah Bill To Expand Death Penalty Offenses Clears Hurdle

Jan 30, 2018

A Utah lawmaker wants to make it a death penalty offense to kill a security guard or paramedic, but prosecutors are warning that change could threaten capital punishment.

Democratic Sen. Karen Mayne said Monday her plan would help protect emergency first responders who might be targeted. A Senate committee approved her proposal 5-1.

The Utah Chiefs of Police Association supports it, saying all first responders put themselves in harm's way to protect the public.

But deputy Salt Lake County district attorney William Carlson warns other states have seen death penalty thrown out if the list of capital crimes grows too long. Utah law already has 60 aggravating factors that can invoke the death penalty.

Republican Sen. Todd Weiler cited that concern as he voted against the bill.