State Supreme Court upholds Ploof’s life sentence in slaying

DOVER — A 54-year-old former Delaware Death Row inmate’s bid to reconsider a life sentence for first-degree murder was denied in the state Supreme Court on Tuesday.

In a four-page order, Delaware’s highest court upheld an earlier Superior Court ruling that denied Gary W. Ploof’s bids for post-conviction relief and a motion to correct the sentence. Justice Gary F. Traynor issued the order for the matter submitted Sept. 12 and also heard by justices Karen L. Valihura and Collins J. Seitz, Jr.

Ploof was stationed in Dover as a United States Air Force staff sergeant in 2001 when he drove his wife to a parking lot and fatally shot her in the head after hatching a plan to collect on a newly available $100,000 life insurance policy for military spouses, according to the order. A jury determined he was death penalty eligible due to the financial gain he sought, the Court detailed, and he was sentenced on Aug. 22, 2003.

Over a decade, Ploof unsuccessfully attempted to get post-conviction relief at the state and federal levels.

The death sentence was vacated after a Supreme Court found federal case law that deemed it unconstitutional, and Ploof was resentenced to life in prison without parole in 2017.

Ploof attempted to argue that the case law had struck down the entire statute involving his sentence and life without parole was not warranted. He also claimed his punishment violated the Eighth Amendment through cruel and unusual punishment, according to documents.
The Supreme Court found that Ploof was largely relitigating past arguments that had no merit, and affirmed the Superior Court’s judgment.

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