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Prosecutor will seek death penalty in murder of Marion County deputy

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Prosecutor Ryan Mears said Thursday that the murder case involving a Marion County Sheriff’s Office deputy on Monday meets the criteria for the death penalty.

He listed four reasons: The two most egregious being the murder of a law enforcement officer and a previous charge or conviction of murder.

In a news conference Thursday afternoon at the Marion County Prosecutor’s Office, Sheriff Kerry Forestall told a packed room of reporters, “It needs to be known in this community if you kill a law enforcement officer, you should be willing to sacrifice your life.”

On Thursday, prosecutors said they will seek the death penalty for Orlando Mitchell, 34, of Indianapolis, after charging him with murder, robbery and escape.

Investigators say Mitchell just after 11 a.m. Monday forced the chain of his handcuffs over Deputy John Durm‘s head and wrapped the chain around his neck, killing the deputy.

The Democrat sheriff said the incident was caught on camera, and someone should have been watching the camera. He added that Drum should not have been alone. It’s unknown if the sheriff will release any video footage of the incident.

Asked if proper procedures were followed, Forestall said, “Is there times we do more with less staff than we do and people make tough decisions? Yeah, probably. We have reviewed it now. Anytime we may make an error, we will review it and make changes.”

He said Durm was unloading Mitchell from a sheriff’s van after a medical appointment when the attack happened. The struggle went on for more than five minutes until Durm stopped moving.

Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department is handling the investigation. No IMPD officers were in the area where the homicide happened, the department’s public information unit told News 8.

Assistant Chief Chris Bailey of IMPD said, “This was a brutal and evil attack. There is no doubt about it and not his first one. He killed Krystal Walton and attacked two IMPD officers with a rifle. He has no business, if convicted, to ever step foot out of a jail cell again.” 

The murder of Krystal Walton, the mother of Mitchell’s children, happened in September. Mitchell is still awaiting trial in that case.

The prosecutor says a death penalty case will take longer than a traditional murder case. Mears says he has the support of the Sheriff’s Office and Durm’s family. “This is going to be a lengthy process. I certainly feel comfortable with conversations that we have had and their support for this decision.”

Cameras are being allowed in the courtroom during Mitchell’s initial hearing set for 10 a.m. Friday.

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