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FIRST ON FOX: Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., is demanding answers from Attorney General Merrick Garland on why the Justice Department is no longer seeking the death penalty against a man accused of murdering his estranged wife, Fort Campbell soldier Brittney Niecol Silvers.
Federal prosecutors announced in February 2021 they were seeking the death penalty against Victor Everette Silvers, who is charged with first-degree murder in the Oct. 14, 2018, shooting and killing of Army Sgt. Silvers on her base in Kentucky.
The death penalty pursuit was authorized by acting Attorney General Jeffrey A. Rosen, who was appointed by former President Trump, according to last year’s Department of Justice announcement.
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But a new court filing in the case reviewed by Fox News Digital shows that the U.S. attorney for the Western District of Kentucky filed a motion to withdraw the notice to seek the death penalty against Silvers. The motion says the attorney general “authorized and directed” the death penalty withdrawal on April 7.
“Why did you ‘authorize and direct’ this action?” Cotton said in a letter to Garland obtained by Fox News. “Has anything changed since February 25, 2021? Sgt. Silvers deserves justice.”
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Cotton is an Army veteran who serves on the Senate Armed Services and Judiciary committees. He called Silvers a “serial domestic abuser” who shot and murdered a United States soldier “in front of her apartment on a U.S. Army base in 2018.”
The Justice Department did not provide comment on why President Biden’s attorney general changed course. But a spokesperson told Fox News Digital that “the Department received the letter and will review it.”
Last July, Garland imposed a moratorium on federal executions while the department conducted a review of its policies and procedures, but no timetable was given on cases. The pause doesn’t stop federal prosecutors from seeking the death penalty and the Biden administration asked the U.S. Supreme Court to reinstate the Boston Marathon bomber’s original death sentence.
Garland has raised concerns about the death penalty, including “its disparate impact on people of color.” Silvers is a Black man.
“I have spoken several times about my concerns about the death penalty, about the arbitrariness of its application, given how seldom it’s applied in the federal system and with respect to its disparate impact on people of color,” Garland told NPR in March. “And with respect to exonerations that we’ve seen, not only in death penalty cases, but in other serious offenses. So I have those concerns, particularly with respect to the moratorium.”
In that interview, Garland also raised concerns about execution drugs: “I have concerns about the changes that were made at the end of 2020, which led to the first executions in many, many years in the federal system. These included evaluation of the use of pentobarbital as the drug of execution and evaluation of changes that were made at the end of 2020 with respect to the procedures and the manner both of those are. It’s an ongoing review.”
At the time of her death, Sgt. Silvers was assigned to the 96th Aviation Support Battalion at Fort Campbell.
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According to federal prosecutors, Victor Silvers arrived at Sgt. Silvers’ residence at night and began banging on her door. A neighbor, who was walking his dog, heard gunshots and saw Victor Silvers shoot Brittney Silvers in front of her residence, according to prosecutors. Silvers eventually confessed to the shooting, according to the 2018 statement from prosecutors.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Source URL: https://www.foxnews.com/politics/sen-cotton-doj-death-penalty-serial-abuser-murdered-solider