re: Who's the boss, city cops, state cops, or the Feds? (death penalty enquiry)

Quote from the subject ‘Who’s the boss, city cops, state cops, or the Feds?’
“As a practical matter, though, all local and federal agencies subscribe to the notion of “comity of jurisdictions,” meaning they try to cooperate. Normally you’ll be turned over to the authority that’s after you for the most serious offense.”

I am very curious about this statement; if someone were to commit a straightforward murder in a state which carries the death penalty, AND THEN carry on to commit a kidnap/murder (a presumably more serious crime) in another state which does not carry the death penalty. Does it mean that the murderer will be tried and sentenced in the more lenient state, thus getting away with the death penalty?

Sorry about the double post! It was an accident!

Don’t worry, t0mas – that happens around here a lot. :slight_smile: Welcome to the SDMB.

Link to article:
Who’s the boss, city cops, state cops, or the Feds?

No, the murderer won’t escape the death penalty. The states will each get to try him for the crimes committed. That’s what happened with Jeffrey Dahmer several years ago – after being convicted to several life terms he was extradited to Ohio to stand trial for his first murder. Given that there was no way Dahmer would ever have gotten out of jail it may not seem to make too much sense, but if something had happened and Dahmer had been somehow paroled, he would have been transported to Ohio to begin serving his sentence there.

Now, as to which state would get the murderer in your scenario, I don’t know. If he’s sentenced to life in State A where the death penalty isn’t allowed, and sentenced later to death in State B, a defense lawyer may be able to convince a judge that sending the guy to State B to have the sentence carried out would amount to State A imposing the death penalty, which it can’t do. Granted that reeks of BS to me, but I’m not a lawyer, a judge, or a murderer. Eventually one of the lawyers should come along, then you may get a useful answer.

Basically, the local prosecutors would work it out informally. If crimes were committed in different states, then each state would get their crack – if they wanted it.

For instance, take Timothy McVeigh. When he blew up the Murrah Building in Ohlahoma City, he killed something like 170 people. Most of these people were civillians (even though many were federal government employees). As such, the murder thereof was not a federal crime. A handful of federal agents were also killed, and that is a federal crime. McVeigh was tried in federal court for those murders (and other charges), for which he ultimately received the death penalty. The Oklahoma authorities could have prosecuted him for those 160-some other murders had they wanted to, but after he got the federal death penalty they figured it wasn’t worth the bother. Had McVeigh somehow gotten his federal conviction overturned, Oklahoma would have tried him separately.

Another example is the D.C.-area sniper case. Most of the sniper’s murders took place in Maryland or D.C. However, the first jurisdiction to try the suspects is Virginia. The snipers were actually caught in Maryland, but Maryland agreed them to let Virginia try them first because they’re both eligible for the death penalty there. Maryland doesn’t have the DP for minors. After the Virginia trial, Maryland, D.C., Washington, Louisiana, etc., might try them for murders committed in those jurisdictions. Or maybe those other states will not worry about it if the suspects are convicted, especially if they’re sentenced to death.