COEUR D’ALENE, Idaho — The death penalty is still an option for a man charged with killing a Coeur d’Alene police officer.
Kootenai County District Court Judge Lansing Haynes on Monday denied two motions from the defense asking that he not allow the death penalty to be among the potential punishments for 26-year-old Jonathan Renfro, The Coeur d’Alene Press reported (http://bit.ly/2dd2Puu).
Renfro is charged with first-degree murder, grand theft, removing a law-enforcement officer’s firearm, concealing evidence, robbery and eluding police in connection to the 2015 shooting death of Coeur d’Alene Police Sgt. Greg Moore.
In a series of hearings that began last week, Haynes has heard arguments from Renfro’s defense team as to why their client should not face execution. Arguments have ranged from international law to specifics about the encounter between Renfro and Moore.
The defense’s most recent argument says that Moore’s interaction with Renfro constituted an unreasonable seizure. Kootenai County Public Defender John Adams said Monday that Renfro walking in the Coeur d’Alene neighborhood was legal and that Moore “acting on a hunch” when approaching Renfro is the reason the shooting occurred.
“Unfortunately it’s a hunch that went terribly wrong,” Adams added.
Adams said that once Moore asked for Renfro’s driver’s license, the encounter went from a consensual encounter to one in which Renfro believed he was not able to leave, constituting seizure. Because of this, Adams argues his client should be charged with second-degree murder and not face the death penalty.
“First-degree murder has to go away, it’s got to be a second-degree murder,” Adams said. “It’s a big call, but the law is pretty straightforward.”
Kootenai County Deputy Prosecutor David Robins disagreed, saying that Renfro was not “seized” because he neither had surrendered nor was he physically restrained.
“The moment he pulled that trigger, he was not unconstitutionally seized,” Robins said. “A person who is seized does not shoot a police officer.”
Haynes said he will rule on the defense’s most recent argument on Oct. 12.
Information from: Coeur d’Alene Press, http://www.cdapress.com