Petition asks prosecutor to not seek death in quadruple murder

By Tara Morgan - bio | email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - An unusual plea in the Farmville quadruple murder case: a petition asking the prosecutor not to seek the death penalty.

Suspect Richard Sam McCroskey is accused of bludgeoning to death four people last September. His trial date could be set next month.

Two former students of one of the victims: Longwood professor Debra Kelley, created the online petition. They say they're not trying to free McCroskey, but honor Kelley's beliefs in not supporting capital punishment.

More than 80 signatures so far on "Debra's Convictions" online petition including former students of the murdered Longwood Professor. Number 54: Richard Sam McCroskey's sister. The first two: Scott Hintz and his wife. Scott says they created it, not to diminish the heinous crime, but to give Debra Kelley a voice.

"I know she did not support capital punishment. She didn't believe it was uniformly applied. She didn't believe it was a deterrent to crime," said Scott Hintz.

McCroskey is accused of killing Kelley, her estranged husband Mark Niederbrock, their daughter Emma and her friend Melanie Wells eight months ago. The Hintz' sent a letter to the prosecutor asking him to consider life in prison without the possibility of parole for McCroskey.

"We need to punish the people for murder and protect society, and I think both those goals are served by a life time of incarceration and life in prison is not getting away with anything," said Hintz.

Our legal expert, Steven Benjamin says such a petition is rare and when considering the death penalty, Benjamin says a prosecutor looks at many factors including the criminal background  and the family's wishes.

"I think the value of this petition, it notifies the prosecutor that this particular victim was not in favor of capital punishment but he can't forget the fact that this is one of several victims," said Benjamin.

Scott Hintz says he hasn't heard back from the prosecutor. Our call to the Prince Edward Commonwealth's Attorney was not returned.

A trial date may be set next month, McCroskey's attorney says he's still waiting for the results of his client's mental evaluation among other tests.

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