Suspect in Indiana officer death pleads not guilty

AP News
Posted: Jul 15, 2014 12:29 PM
Suspect in Indiana officer death pleads not guilty

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Prosecutors said Tuesday they may seek the death penalty against the man charged in the shooting death of an Indianapolis police officer.

A judge entered a not guilty plea for Major Davis Jr., whom sheriff's deputies pushed in a wheelchair to a Marion County courtroom for his first court appearance on murder charges. Authorities say Davis, 25, was wounded during the July 5 shootout that killed Officer Perry Renn but they haven't detailed his injuries.

"We've been getting updates each day since this happened so I wasn't surprised to see him in court today," Marion County Deputy Prosecutor Denise Robinson said.

Police say Renn and other officers were responding to a call of shots being fired on the city's north side when he exchanged gunfire with Davis, who hit Renn with three rounds from an AK-47 assault rifle.

About 20 police officers lined up around the perimeter of the standing room-only audience in the courtroom.

"That was for the family," Indianapolis police spokesman Lt. Chris Bailey said.

Robinson said prosecutors had not yet decided whether to seek the death penalty against Davis, but were evaluating it.

"This will not be a quick or easy process," she said.

The last time prosecutors in Marion County sought or obtained the death penalty came in the separate deaths of two police officers.

In 2011, prosecutors sought the death penalty against Thomas Hardy in the killing of Indianapolis police Officer David Moore, but Hardy later pleaded guilty in return to a sentence of life without parole. In 2002, Benjamin Donnie Ritchie was sentenced to death in the slaying of Beech Grove Police Officer William Toney; Ritchie remains on Indiana's Death Row.

The death penalty is commonly sought in cases where an officer has died, according to Richard Dieter, executive director of the nonprofit Death Penalty Information Center, which advocates for the end of capital punishment.

Davis' public defender, David Shircliff, did not return phone calls seeking comment.