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State Supreme Court: Accused Police Killer Monfort Could Face Death Penalty

AP Photo/Ted S. Warren

The Washington State Supreme Court has ruled that King County prosecutors can seek the death penalty against accused police killer Christopher Monfort. 

Monfort is charged with aggravated murder in the shooting death of Seattle police officer Tim Brenton four years ago. The high court also wrote that a King County judge improperly intruded on the prosecutor’s discretion to pursue a capital case.

Earlier this year, King County Superior Court Judge Ronald Kessler had taken the death penalty off the table. Kessler said the case lacked a thorough search for “mitigating factors” that could have helped Monfort's defense.

But the high court disagreed.

In the opinion, the court wrote that the prosecution is not obligated to perform an exhaustive search for mitigating factors when deciding whether to seek the death penalty.

In a statement, King County prosecutor Dan Satterberg said he was pleased with the court’s ruling. He added that the prosecutor’s office follows a careful process in reviewing potential death penalty cases. 

Monfort has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity to charges of aggravated murder, attempted murder and arson.