DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - The State Attorney of the 7th Court District has officially filed the charge of first-degree murder against Othal Wallace and they will be pursuing the death penalty.
Investigators said that Officer Jason Raynor, 26, was shot on the evening of June 23rd while checking for suspicious activity near an apartment complex on Kingston St. in Daytona Beach. Units scrambled to find the shooting suspect, 29-year-old Othal Wallace, sparking a nationwide manhunt. He was eventually tracked down in a treehouse near Georgia days later. Officer Raynor was hospitalized for almost two months before passing away.
When Officer Raynor passed, a charging affidavit from the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office was filed, showing that Wallace now faces a 'First Degree Murder of a Law Enforcement Officer' charge. The State Attorney’s Office then announced that they are seeking the death penalty against Wallace.
"Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of Officer Jason Raynor, the Daytona Beach Police Department, and all our brothers and sisters in law enforcement," said State Attorney R.J. Larizza. "We will proceed with our solemn mission to hold Officer Jason Raynor’s murderer accountable."
He then added, "Justice equals accountability and justice demands the death penalty."
The Daytona Beach Police Chief Jakari Young added that, "We fully support R.J. Larizza and his staff. We will do everything in our power to assist them in this pursuit of justice for the Raynor family, the men and women of the Daytona Beach Police Department and all law enforcement officers everywhere."
State Attorney R.J. Larizza and Daytona Beach Police Chief Jakari Young together on Wednesday, announcing a Grand Jury Indictment of Othal Wallace on a First-Degree Murder Charge. This allows the state to move ahead with its intent to seek the death penalty against Wallace.
"There was no waiver at all. The decision was not difficult," said State Attorney RJ Larizza. "You all have seen the video. Officer Raynor was doing his job in a very non-aggressive manner. He was doing his best to do his job and at the same time show respect to the individual to the defendant."
The process will be a long one as proving the death penalty brings along additional hearings and scrutiny that will take years. Larizza said new evidence continues to come in.
"That 9mm firearm that was found in Georgia in close proximity to the defendant has been tested and the shell casings match," Larizza added.
In addition to what Larizza calls a heinous and cruel act were the social media posts that Larizza believes paint a picture of Wallace’s mindset before the incident. Wallace’s ties to Black Nationalist groups like NFAC and other "gangs" helped in their decision to pursue the death penalty.
"Those folks were all affiliated and are a part of our analysis as we move forward with the aggravator regarding the gang activity," Larizza explained.
No date has been set for the first pretrial date.
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