A proposed bill considered by lawmakers in Tennessee aims to limit the punishment a jury can consider for a person convicted of first degree murder who killed an officer, emergency medical worker or firefighter while they were on the job.
State Bill 0841 calls for a person convicted of first degree murder will get a death sentence, life without possibility of parole or life in prison if it was committed against a law enforcement officer, correctional officer, Department of Correction employee, probation or parole officer, emergency medical or rescue worker, emergency medical technician, paramedic or firefighter who was engaged in official duties. That’s if the defendant “knew or reasonably should have known” the victim was performing the official duties of their job.
In order for the sentence to be handed down, a jury must unanimously find that prosecutors have proven beyond a reasonable doubt that the murder was committed and that the defendant knew the victim was on the job.
The legislation also states if the jury is divided over imposing a death sentence, the judge will dismiss the jury and impose a sentence of prison for life without possibility of parole.
The bill passed the House on first consideration and will now go before the state Senate Judiciary Committee.