Prosecuting attorney comments on bill filed to end death penalty - KAIT-Jonesboro, AR-News, weather, sports

Prosecuting attorney comments on bill filed to end death penalty

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JONESBORO, AR (KAIT)- An Arkansas lawmaker filed a bill to end the death penalty in the state, Monday. 

The bill was filed by Democratic Sen. Joyce Elliott of Little Rock who said she was asked by a group interested in ending the death penalty to file the bill.

"I can't see Arkansas abolishing the death penalty, I certainly would be opposed to that," said Scott Ellington, district prosecuting attorney. 

"Opponents to death penalty say it is so easy to get the death penalty, it is not. First of all the crime has to fit in the very specific areas that is spelled out in the statute. "

Ellington said the state of Arkansas has what's called capital felony murder which is someone  committing a felony or was an accomplice of someone committing a felony.

There are currently 37 people on death row in the state of Arkansas.

"We take filing a capital murder and especially seeking the death penalty as a very very serious matter," said Ellington. "It's not something we do half-heartedly or without much thought or consideration."

Once a person is convicted of a capital crime, there are certain factors that must be proven to convince a jury that the death penalty is necessary. In the case of a tragedy, Ellington said the public deserves that option.

"If we had another Sandy Hook and the person didn't kill themselves but they were actually captured. I think there would be a public outcry if we didn't have the death penalty asking  why do we not have the death penalty," Ellington said.

"I believe that it is necessary in this society that we continue to have that option available in the most heinous of crimes."

Ellington said he doesn't think the bill will pass, especially if legislators are listening to their constituents. But in the case that the bill does pass, he said it would change the type of crimes committed.

"I think the more heinous crimes, they may be more frequent."

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