Illinois prosecutors seek death penalty for duo that executed police officer while she begged for her life

"'You don't have to do this, please just go, please don't please don't.' She was desperately pleading for her life," said Kankakee County State's Attorney Jim Rowe.

Hannah Nightingale Washington DC

A prosecutor in Illinois is seeking the death penalty for a duo charged with the fatal shooting of a veteran Illinois police officer who was killed with her own weapon while she pleaded for her life, and for the shooting of her partner, who is in critical condition.

Kankakee County State's Attorney Jim Rowe described the killing of 49-year-old Bradley police Sgt. Marlene Rittmanic in court on Monday during a bond hearing for 26-year-old Xandria Harris, defending the necessity for the designation.

Despite Illinois not being a death penalty state, "the US Attorney General can authorize the filing of a petition to seek out the punishment in certain federal murder cases," according to the Daily Mail.

Harris and 25-year-old Darius Sullivan were charged with first-degree murder for fatally shooting Rittmanic, and critically wounding her partner, 27-year-old Officer Tyler Bailey, late Wednesday, according to WGN9. Bailey remains hospitalized at a Chicago-area hospital in critical condition.

"At the time Sullivan fired the fatal shots into Sgt. Rittmanic, Sgt. Rittmanic was pleading with them to just leave, 'you don't have to do this, please just go, please don't please don't.' She was desperately pleading for her life," Rowe said, according to court documents.

"I will be submitting an official request to the U.S. Attorney General for the Central District of Illinois and to the U.S. Attorney General to review the first degree murder case pending against Darius Sullivan and Xandria Harris for federal murder charges, and pursue a federal sentence of death against both defendants," Rowe continued.

Rowe noted that the State's Attorney will also seek life sentences for the duo as the existing state charges proceed.

During Monday's bond hearing, Judge Kathy Bradshaw Elliott granted a request to deny Harris bail, telling Harris: "You are a real threat to the community."

Rittmanic and Bradley were responding to reports of unattended dogs barking in a vehicle at a Comfort Inn Hotel last Wednesday.

When the officers ran the plates of the car they discovered that it belonged to Sullivan, who was wanted on a bench warrant and he had previously run from Bradley police officers trying to arrest him.

The officers knocked on room 308 in the hotel, where Sullivan and Harris were staying, and went on knocking for around 15 minutes, according to the Daily Mail.

Harris repeatedly told officers that she was getting dressed, and when she emerged, she attempted to squeeze her way past the officers and close the door behind her, hiding Sullivan from the officers.

Rittmanic and Bailey repeatedly asked Harris to move out of the way before Sullivan emerged from he room, armed with a 9mm handgun equipped with a drum clip.

Sullivan then pointed the gun at Bailey and shot him at close range in the head.

Court documents say that Sullivan then shot Rittmanic as she attempted to run away. His gun then jammed, which he reportedly attempted to free with his right hand and mouth as he tried to disarm Rittmanic.

Harris ran towards the struggle, where Sullivan then allegedly told her to "cock the gun, cock the gun."

With help from Harris, Sullivan was able to steal Rittmanic's service weapon from her. Rittmanic pleaded for her life, and was then shot in the head twice by Sullivan, officials say.

Sullivan was arrested after a 36-hour manhunt by US Marshals and a SWAT team on Friday near Fort Wayne at a home in North Manchester, Indiana, police said.

"Also at the house, several weapons and narcotics were also recovered," said Sgt. Glen Fifield of the Indiana State Police.

Harris voluntarily turned herself in later on Friday to the Bradley Police Department.

"She maintains her innocence. She's a mother of three children and she's pregnant," her attorney, Phil Haddad, said.

The case will go before a Kankakee County grand jury on Jan. 22. Harris will be arraigned on Jan. 27. Sullivan is currently awaiting extradition to Illinois.

A memorial was held for Rittmanic earlier this week. The Bradley Police Department issued a statement saying that "Marlene believed in people and her ability to speak to the community with respect; meet them where they are in life; try to understand their true needs; and work together to find a solution that produced the least disruption in people’s lives."


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