District Attorney decides not to seek death penalty for Vallejo cop’s killer

FAIRFIELD (BCN) —  The Solano County District Attorney’s Office will not seek the death penalty for the convicted killer of Vallejo police Officer Jim Capoot.

Henry Albert Smith Jr., 41, was convicted on July 24 of fatally shooting Capoot during a foot chase in the back yard of a Janice Street residence in Vallejo after a bank robbery on Nov. 17, 2011.

Smith faced the death penalty because the murder occurred during the course of a robbery, because he killed Capoot, 45, of Vacaville, to avoid arrest and because the murder victim was a police officer.

During the guilt phase of the trial that started in February, several jurors were removed from the panel for various reasons, leaving no alternate jurors.

Abrams said one or two of the remaining 12 jurors said they would not be available to participate in the penalty phase of the trial. Solano County Superior Court Judge Peter B. Foor then declared a mistrial before the
penalty phase because of juror unavailability, Abrams said.

“We would have had to start with a whole new jury for the penalty phase,” Abrams said.

A date to start the penalty phase of the trial was scheduled to be set today in Solano County Superior Court.

“Today was a very difficult decision for the People whether to continue the case and start again for the penalty phase and seek the appropriate punishment, or to proceed to sentencing,” Abrams said in the news

Abrams said her office believes the decision to seek the death penalty is still appropriate, but the case has taken an emotional toll on all of Capoot’s family and they have expressed a desire for finality and

“They’re spent. They wanted to proceed with sentencing,” Abrams said this afternoon. “I can’t imagine being in their shoes and going through what they’ve been going through,” she said.

Abrams said her office considered the wishes of Capoot’s family and of the Vallejo Police Department, and the likelihood of whether a jury would unanimously return a death penalty verdict given the change of
circumstances regarding the admissibility of certain evidence about Smith’s prior conduct.

“The aggravating factors have to substantially outweigh the mitigating factors to secure the death penalty,” Abrams said.

Abrams said in the interest of justice, her office will proceed with sentencing Smith on Nov. 9 to serve life in prison without parole.

Abrams said Capoot’s family would like Officer Capoot to be remembered for what he did in his life, not for the man who took his life.

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