By The Archery Wire
After four hours of deliberation, an Adams County, Pa. jury on Oct. 4 sentenced a 29-year-old man to death by lethal injection for the killing of a state wildlife conservation officer.
Christopher L. Johnson was convicted earlier in the week of first-degree murder for shooting and killing Wildlife Conservation Officer David L. Grove after Grove pulled him over for poaching deer nearly two years ago.
In announcing the jury's sentencing verdict, Adams County Judge Michael A. George directed his comments to Johnson, saying, "May God have mercy on your soul."
In a statement following the sentencing, Pennsylvania Game Commission Executive Director Carl G. Roe praised the court for its actions.
"We believe that justice has been served with these jury decisions," Roe said. "We offer our sincere thanks and appreciation to Adams County District Attorney Shawn Wagner and Montgomery County Assistant District Attorney Kevin Steele for their prosecution of this case, and to the Pennsylvania State Police who conducted an exemplary investigation of this murder.
"This case has been a heart-wrenching, two-year experience for our entire agency. While the loss of WCO Grove will never be filled, we know that his spirit will be among us as we continue to do our duty to protect and conserve Pennsylvania's wildlife resources; a duty to which WCO Grove had dedicated his 'last full measure of devotion.'"
Grove, 31, was shot and killed in the line of duty while on patrol around 10:30 p.m., on Nov. 11, 2010, along Shrivers Road in Freedom Township, Adams County. He was investigating reports of ongoing night-time shooting and possible poaching activity in the area.
Prior to this incident, the last Game Commission Officer to have been shot and killed in the line of duty was Game Protector Joseph McHugh in Weatherly, Carbon County, on Nov. 7, 1915. In that case, the jury found the offender, Francis Thomas, 19, from Drifton, not guilty.