Suspect in murder of Temple University officer headed to trial; family calls for death penalty

The father of Sgt. Christopher Fitzgerald said the case "meets every threshold of the death penalty."

Wednesday, January 24, 2024
Suspect in murder of Temple University officer headed to trial; family calls for death penalty
Suspect in murder of Temple University officer headed to trial; family calls for death penalty

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- A Bucks County, Pennsylvania man is headed to trial in the shooting death of a Temple University police officer 11 months ago near the campus in North Philadelphia.

The suspect, 19-year-old Miles Pfeffer of Buckingham Township, waived his right to a preliminary hearing Tuesday on charges including murder and murder of a law enforcement officer in the slaying of 31-year-old Sgt. Christopher Fitzgerald last February.

Miles Pfeffer

Fitzgerald's family walked out of the Criminal Justice Center on Tuesday morning holding hands. His widow, Marissa, was wearing his Temple jacket.

Minutes earlier, they were in the same courtroom as Pfeffer.

"He's disgusting. That's it. Nothing more, nothing less. No empathy. Just an evil human being. Just an evil individual that has no regard for life," said Marissa Fitzgerald.

The hearing came nearly a year after Sgt. Fitzgerald was shot. The family says justice is taking too long.

"The preliminary hearing happened today. We're talking January 2024, and my son was killed February 18 of last year," said Fitzgerald's father, Joel Fitzgerald. "It's ridiculous."

The hearing has been pushed back because the defense requested several delays. The family says, to them, justice will mean the death penalty in this case - something they have told District Attorney Larry Krasner.

"It meets every threshold of the death penalty, and I will tell you that we're waiting with bated breath to hear from the district attorney to see what they decide to do," Joel Fitzgerald said.

The Philadelphia District Attorney's Office wouldn't comment when contacted by Action News, saying the court makes sentencing decisions.

Authorities said Sgt. Fitzgerald spotted three people dressed in black and wearing masks in an area where there had been a series of robberies and carjackings. He chased the trio, and after two of them hid he continued to pursue the third, police said.

Authorities allege that he caught up with Pfeffer and ordered him to the ground, and the two then struggled before Pfeffer pulled a handgun and fired six times. Prosecutors allege that Pfeffer then carjacked a vehicle nearby. He was arrested the next morning at his mother's Bucks County home.

Pfeffer is charged with murder, criminal homicide of a law enforcement officer, disarming an officer, robbery, theft, evading arrest and weapons crimes. He also faces robbery, theft, terroristic threatening and other charges in the subsequent carjacking. The Defender Association of Philadelphia declined to comment on the charges Tuesday.

Dozens of Temple University police officers attended the hearing. The university has said Fitzgerald was the first Temple University officer killed in the line of duty. A father of five children, he joined the school's police force in October 2021.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.