A jury at the St. John Parish Courthouse in Edgard, Louisiana, has awarded the death penalty to a man convicted of killing two deputies in a shootout in 2012.
The jury's decision came two days after Kyle Joekel was convicted of two counts of murder of deputies Brandon Nielsen and Jeremy Triche. They were killed in a shootout at a trailer park in the suburb of New Orleans, Laplace, seven years ago.
The incident occurred after officials responded to a driveby shootout on August 16, 2012 in which off-duty Deputy Michael Scott Boyington was shot. Investigation revealed Nielsen and Triche were among five deputies and were shot by Joekel and Terry Smith. The suspects were later identified as leader of an anti-government extremist group "sovereign citizens", listed by the FBI as "domestic terrorists".
Prosecutors citing testimonies of surviving deputies said Joekel stood over Nielsen and fatally shot him at a close range with an AK-47. The other suspect Brian Smith also accused of shooting Boyington earlier in the morning of the incident is charged with two counts of first-degree murder. Smith who is in a state mental hospital has been deemed incompetent to stand trial.
Louisiana's first death row since 2000
Though the jury decided on the death penalty, Judge J Sterling Snowdy is reported to officially hand down the sentence. The sentencing date has not been set yet, according to the Times-Picayune/New Orleans Advocate.
If sentenced, Joekel will be the first person to be executed in St John Parish in 20 years and will be the 69th person on Louisiana's death row, according to the Department of Public Safety and Corrections.
Texas man who killed 5 including wife, children executed
Joekel's death row decision came after a convict charged for the murder of five people including his wife, children and relatives in 2002 was executed last week.
Abel Ochoa was executed for killing his wife Cecilia, 32, his two daughters, nine-month-old Anahi and Crystal, 7, as well as his father-in-law, 56-year-old Bartolo Alvizo, and sister-in-law Jacqueline Saleh, 20. He also shot and seriously injured another sister-in-law, Alma Alvizo.
Attorneys fighting against Ochoa's death sentence said according to court documents, that his sentence should be commuted to a life sentence due to "his deep and sincere remorse".
His attorneys from the time of his trial described Ochoa as a hard-working, law-abiding citizen and have argued that he shot his family in a cocaine-induced delirium and suffered from brain damage from drug abuse in his two and a half years of addiction to crack.
Ochoa's execution was the second inmate death in capital punishment in Texas this year and third in the US