Terrorism added to death penalty statute

JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) - You can now add terrorism to the list of state crimes that could potentially lead the guilty party to Mississippi's death row.

"If we do reach the death penalty phase in a case like this, a jury should be allowed to consider whether or not it was an act of terrorism as an aggravated offense," said Republican Senator Chris McDaniel of Ellisville.

This comes thanks to a bill authored by McDaniel, who says with recent bombings in Boston and even terrorist threats, the state simply needs to have the law in place.

"We have to take a proactive role in combating terrorism. This gives our prosecutors and our justice system another tool to do just that," said McDaniel.

As with any death penalty case, a victim must die as a result of a felony before the crime can warrant death. With this law, terrorism is now one of those felonies, like rape or armed robbery. McDaniel says adding it to the list puts the state in line with federal law.

"We have state authority and we have federal authority and there's nothing that prohibits one of the two from bringing a prosecution in this area. We thought it was important that when the state did, if they chose to do so and seek the death penalty, we thought it was important to trace or track the federal law in that regard so there's no confusion," said McDaniel.

The bill passed the legislature overwhelming and was recently signed into law by Governor Phil Bryant. McDaniel has submitted this exact bill for several years now. The law will take effect on July 1st.

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