Two Sussex Reps want death penalty reinstated for some cases

Jarek RutzGovernment, Headlines


Two Delaware lawmakers are looking to reinstate the death penalty for criminals convicted of the murder of a law enforcement or public safety officer.

State Reps. Tim Dukes, R-Laurel and Danny Short, R-Seaford, announced Thursday that they are planning to introduce legislation in the new year that would reinstate the death penalty under those conditions. 

The bill known as the “Law Enforcement and First Responders Protection Act” comes in response to this week’s life-in-prison conviction of the man who savagely murdered Delmar Police Corporal Keith Heacook in April 2021.

RELATED: Wilkerson to serve life in prison for murder of Delmar cop

“Corporal Heacook didn’t die in vain, and we continue to address this issue, hoping to bring it to the House floor for legislators to make that decision,” Dukes said. “I think people just want to know that we won’t forget. We’ll remember Corporal Heacook and his service to the community and that he didn’t die in vain.”

Randon Wilkerson, 32, was charged for the killing of Heacock. Wilkerson was convicted of 16 charges, including two counts of Murder 1st Degree and 11 other felonies. He will serve the rest of his life in prison.

Several community members commented on social media platforms in response to this week’s sentencing saying that the death penalty should be reinstated. 

In 2016, the Delaware Supreme Court struck down Delaware’s capital punishment statute. 

Before that, there were 22 aggravating circumstances that, when linked to the commission of a murder, could have warranted capital punishment.

The new bill will mirror legislation that was drafted by Rep. Short in 2020, but had not been officially introduced. 

The revamped measure will be focused on addressing the constitutional issues cited by the High Court in order to restore the current capital punishment law and to reserve the death penalty for only murders committed under the following aggravating circumstance: killing a police officer or public safety official.

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