The U.S. Attorney's office is considering a death penalty case against the suspect in a deadly robbery at the Chili's restaurant in DeWitt, in September
William Wood Jr. is currently facing two counts of first-degree murder. If convicted, he would face life in prison without parole.
The victims, Steve Gudknecht and Kris Hicks, were Wood's co-workers.
In New York, the death penalty was found to violate the state's constitution.
But, Federal Public Defender Lisa Peebles, told Spectrum News in a statement, "A letter was sent to the state attorney, not our office notifying them of the possibility of a potential federal death penalty prosecution. If that were to happen we would represent Mr. Wood but at the moment the state has the case. Hopefully, it will remain a state case.”
The last local death penalty case involved David Renz, who raped a child and murdered her mother, school librarian Lori Bresnahan, outside of Great Northern Mall five years ago.
Gerald Raymond, a Syracuse area lawyer, tells Spectrum News the Wood case would usually be handled by a state court. But, there may be other factors in the investigation that haven't been made public.
"There has to be some connection that brings it into the federal court and I'm sure the prosecutors have thought long and hard about it," said Raymond.
Four others have been charged in connection with the case. Wood's case is ongoing in Onondaga County Court.