By Paul DeMarco
The tragic killing of Lowndes County Sheriff “Big John” Williams last week is another sad chapter to end the year on for Alabama in 2019.
The sheriff was the fifth member of law enforcement in the state shot to death in the line of duty this year. Another Alabama police officer was killed in an automobile accident responding to a burglary call.
The attacks on police officers have involved different circumstances this past year, but what we know for certain is Alabama has reached a grim milestone. There are only four other states in the Nation that have had more fallen officers this past year.
And unfortunately, the suspect in Sheriff William’s death is an 18-year-old, which means he will be able to apply for youthful offender status.
Youthful offender status is discretionary with the judge and if granted by the judge, then the maximum sentence is three years in prison. Otherwise, the defendant is subject to the charge of capital murder with the penalty of death or life without parole.
The 19-year-old accused killer of Mobile Police Officer Sean Tudor, has also applied for youthful offender status, with a hearing set on December 18th.
When the legislature goes back in session in February 2020, the youthful offender laws have to be addressed. The law needs to be changed so that those that could be charged with capital crimes are no longer eligible for such youthful offender status.
A potential three-year sentence for the offense of capital murder, including police officers, is not justice and Alabama leaders should make sure that never happens.
We need to honor our fallen officers by working to make sure we do everything we can to stop these acts of violence against law enforcement in our state.
We owe them nothing less.
Paul DeMarco is a former member of the Alabama House of Representatives