The Hamilton County prosecutor's office will seek the death penalty in the case against the man accused of striking and killing Springdale Police Officer Kaia Grant.
Prosecutor Joe Deters Wednesday released a 10-count indictment against Terry Blankenship for the events of March 21, which resulted in Grant's death. Police say Blankenship, who was wanted for an attack several days earlier in the home of his estranged wife, fled when identified by Elmwood Place officers. A chase ensued on northbound I-75.
Grant and another officer were preparing to deploy stop sticks when Blankenship's vehicle approached and, according to authorities, swerved toward the officers, striking them and their vehicles. Grant was flown to UC Medical Center where she was pronounced dead.
Blankenship is charged with aggravated burglary and felonious assault for the March 19 incident. He is also charged with eight other counts related to the death of Officer Grant, including aggravated murder, murder, felonious assault and aggravated vehicular homicide.
Deters says Blankenship's actions against Grant were intentional. "If you purposely kill a police officer in the line of duty in Ohio, that is a death penalty case. We believe the facts are there that he purposely did this."
Deters says Blankenship can be heard on police body camera footage attempting to kill himself after striking Grant. The force of the impact, Deters says, activated Grant's camera.
Springdale Chief Tom Wells thanked all involved in the investigation.
"The crime that was perpetrated against Kaia Grant was inexcusable and I can't put into words the loss that we're all feeling," Wells said during a news conference. "I really appreciate the support that we've received and the fact that this individual is going to be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
"There are just no words to describe this and there's no way to bring Kaia back, but this individual should pay for the crime dearly."
Deters says his office doesn't often seek the death penalty "but when we do, we're pretty good at it and we're going to do our best in this case."
Though he says state law prohibits him from commenting on Blankenship's statements to police, Deters says his office has evidence Blankenship told others he wouldn't go back to jail or "be taken alive."
Deters says Grant's family supports the decision to seek the death penalty.
Counts Against Blankenship:
- 1 count of Aggravated Burglary (ORC Section 2911.11 (A) (2) Felony 1 with a 3-year gun specification)
- 1 count of Felonious Assault (ORC Section 2903.11 (A) (2) Felony 2 with a 3-year gun specification)
- 1 count of Weapon Under Disability (ORC Section 2923.13 (A) (1) Felony 3)
- 1 count of Failure to Comply (ORC Section 2921.331(B) Felony 3 with a 1-year gun specification)
- 1 count of Aggravated Murder (Special Felony) in violation of Ohio Revised Code 2903.01 (E) for the purposeful killing of a police officer while on duty; (death penalty specification and 1-year gun specification)
- 1 count of Murder (ORC Section 2903.02(B) Special Felony 15 years – life with a 1-year gun specification)
- Felonious Assault (ORC Section 2903.11 (A) (1) Felony 1 with a 1-year gun specification)
- Felonious Assault (ORC Section 2903.11(A) (2) Felony 1 with 1-year gun specification)
- Aggravated Vehicular Homicide (ORC Section 2903.06 (A) (1) (a) Felony 2 with a peace officer specification and 1-year gun specification)
- Aggravated Vehicular Homicide (ORC Section 2903.06(A) (2) (a) Felony 3 with a peace officer specification and 1-year gun specification)