Madison County prosecutors seek federal death penalty in high-profile murder cases

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MADISON COUNTY, Mo. -  The US attorney's office in Southern Illinois is looking into whether recent metro-east murders could qualify for the federal death penalty.

However, the U.S. Attorney is clear that process, if done, would take quite a bit of work. Illinois lawmakers abolished the state’s death penalty in 2011.

Madison County state's attorney Tom Gibbons wants to see if he could seek the federal death penalty in at least two cases.

Timothy Banowetz from Wentzville is charged in the murder of Edwardsville attorney Randy Gori and two others are charged in a triple murder in Bethalto. The pair are also charged with crimes in Alabama and Tennessee.

The problem lies in the process it takes to put federal death penalty charges on cases nowadays. The office goes on to say in a statement there are normally three categories the cases must fall in and usually even those cases aren’t considered for the death penalty.

The first category includes statutes where federal jurisdiction is established based on the status of the perpetrator or the victim. For example, it is a federal crime to murder certain federal officials and officeholders. The second category includes statutes where federal jurisdiction is premised on the location of the death, such as murders that occur on federal land. The third category includes killings that occur during the commission of another federal offense, such as a murder committed during a bank robbery.

In response to taking on the local homicide charges, the U.S. Attorney’s Office says, “Not all of these crimes are punishable by the death penalty. Nor does a homicide automatically become a death-eligible federal crime simply because someone crossed a state line. We will promptly review any request we receive to open an investigation, but we cannot assess whether federal law has been violated until the facts from the investigations are presented to us.”

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