Polk DA to seek death penalty
The state will seek the death penalty for two people charged with the murder of a police detective and the shooting of another officer, the Polk County district attorney announced Monday.
During a court hearing, DA Jack Browning read off the charges for Seth Brandon Spangler, 31, and Samantha Michelle Roof, 22, both of Chattanooga, Tennessee, and informed the court he intends to pursue capital punishment for the shooting death of Polk County police detective Kristen Hearne.
Hearne and officer David Goodrich were investigating a resident’s complaint about a suspicious vehicle described as a Ford Escape last Friday morning when Spangler and Roof approached them.
They began to talk and police say Spangler pulled out a handgun and shot both officers.
The suspects fled into the heavily wooded area of Polk County and Roof was arrested less than an hour later. Spangler was captured around 2:45 p.m. when he walked out of the woods near some police officers involved in the search.
Hearne was transported to Polk Medical Center where lifesaving efforts continued for nearly an hour before she was pronounced dead. Goodrich, who was wearing a bulletproof vest, was unharmed in the incident.
Browning told a courtroom packed with law enforcement and Hearne’s family he would be recalling the grand jury in November to hear the charges on this case and one more that’s connected.
Michael Anthony Fossett Jr., 28, was also arrested Friday on felony charges of possession of methamphetamine and hindering apprehension or punishment of a criminal.
Browning said in court that Fossett’s case was “indirectly connected to actions of Spangler and Roof.” Browning did not elaborate as to how Fossett was involved.
Spangler and Roof were represented Monday by local attorney and public defender Karen Wilkes.
She said the pair were asserting their right to remain silent and asked that law enforcement stop seeking interviews with the two suspects.
The pair remain in the Polk County Jail on charges of malice murder, felony murder, felony obstruction of law enforcement officers, aggravated assault and theft by receiving stolen property. Spangler also faces the additional charge of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.
Fossett and Roof will both be represented by Summerville attorney Steve Miller.
Spangler did not say if he would continue to retain the services of Wilkes or hire his own attorney.
Read this story online for previous reports about this case.