Philadelphia DA won’t seek death penalty for suspected shooter of Temple Police Sgt. Chris Fitzgerald

The Fitzgerald family has requested that a special prosecutor take the case following District Attorney Larry Krasner’s decision.

Marissa Fitzgerald arrives at the Bell Tower for a vigil remembering her husband, Christopher Fitzgerald. ERIKA MONN / THE TEMPLE NEWS

Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner will not seek the death penalty for the man suspected of fatally shooting Temple Police Sgt. Christopher Fitzgerald, his family wrote in a joint statement Wednesday through Marrone Law Firm.

The decision comes a year and a half after the shooting on Feb. 18, 2023. The accused shooter, Miles Pfeffer, 19, shot Fitzgerald after a brief chase and searched his pockets while on the ground with multiple gunshot wounds, according to court documents.

“Krasner is unable to divorce himself from years as a defense attorney and has tipped the scales of justice one-way,” wrote Joel Fitzgerald, Chris’ father and former Allentown Police Chief, in the statement. 

Sgt. Fitzgerald was on duty on Feb. 18 when he approached Pfeffer in a group of individuals, following a series of robberies and carjackings. He was shot on the 1700 block of West Montgomery Avenue, one block off Temple’s Main Campus.

“[Krasner] will NOT seek the death penalty in the murder case of our hero, Sgt. Christopher Fitzgerald,” the Temple University Police Association wrote in a social media post Wednesday. “Absolutely devastating news for the Fitzgerald family and law enforcement officers throughout Philadelphia.”

The Fitzgerald family has requested a special prosecutor take the case if Krasner does not seek the death penalty. An execution has not taken place in Pennsylvania since 1999.

Pfeffer is scheduled to be formally arraigned in court on Wednesday. He is charged with murder, criminal homicide of a law enforcement officer, disarming an officer, robbery, theft, evading arrest, terroristic threatening, weapons crimes and other charges in the carjacking and shooting.

“While the death penalty is not part of the religious or personal beliefs of some, we respect the law and all associated lawful penalties,” wrote Pauline Fitzgerald, Chris’ mother. “Prior to this evening, we remained prayerful that the judicial system would be allowed to work and that the fate of my son’s murderer would be decided by a judge or jury with all available options.”

Joel Fitzgerald served as Allentown Police Chief from 2013-15. He previously told reporters after a court hearing in January that his son’s shooting “meets every threshold of the death penalty.”

Krasner also denied the family’s request to appeal this decision directly to the DA, according to a prosecutor. 

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