Officer murders mark 20-year anniversary

By: Gabriel Roxas Email
By: Gabriel Roxas Email

Monday marked a somber anniversary in Powell County where 20 years ago two peace officers were killed in the line of duty.

January 30th is a date that haunts Dennis Briscoe and his family. "Thoughts of that day and everything will keep
rushing back the closer that that day comes," Briscoe said.

20 years ago Briscoe's father, Powell County Deputy Arthur Briscoe came to a Powell County cabin to arrest Ralph Baze, who was wanted in Ohio for several charges including assaulting a police officer. Dennis Briscoe's uncle, Sheriff Steve Bennett arrived for backup. Baze killed both officers, something he has admitted over the last two decades he's lived on death row and fought to appeal his case. "I think it would not be as near as traumatic for my family to have to go back and think about it and think that he's still sitting somewhere and living," Briscoe said.

Today Kentucky remains under a judge's order stopping all executions, and lawmakers are considering an additional year-long halt to review the findings of a two-year study the American Bar Association conducted on the state's death penalty system. Briscoe hopes as policy makers study problems and look for solutions, they'll keep the interests of victims' families, like his, in mind. "Every time something happens related to this issue of his execution, hurts every
one of us all over again," Briscoe said, "It constantly hangs over my head that this hasn't happened yet, that his execution's not been carried out yet."

Briscoe insists that he supports the appeals process, but he continues to hope his family's case is on the path to closure. "Twenty years, you know, we're at the time point now where it's been long enough, I think longer than anyone would have ever guessed it would have taken to execute Baze for killing two peace officers," Briscoe said.

Members of Kentucky's House Judiciary Committee will likely consider the proposal to halt executions and form a task force to study the death penalty system during the current legislative session.

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