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Prosecutors to consider death penalty in killing of Hardin County deputy

Community mourns loss of law enforcement officer
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Posted at 2:07 PM, Sep 27, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-27 19:41:49-04

SAVANNAH, Tenn. (WTVF) — A deputy lost his life protecting a woman from a domestic attack -- that's the word from the chief prosecutor, who now plans to seek the death penalty.

Domestic calls are among the very most dangerous for law enforcement officers. They know it.

But District Attorney Matt Stowe says, even so, nothing can prepare you for such a senseless loss of life -- an officer gunned down while trying to protect another.

"He is a hero. He basically gave his life to try to save a woman, who was trying to flee from a domestic violence situation," said General Stowe.

Hardin County Sheriff's Deputy Matthew Locke responded with other officers to an emergency call at a home on Nance Bend Road in Clifton Saturday night. They arrived to find Todd Stricklin with a gun.

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Todd Stricklin

Officers told him to drop it, he didn't, and then Stricklin allegedly started shooting. Deputy Locke was hit. He later died at the hospital.

General Stowe says there's little question this qualifies as a capital crime.

"Whenever a law enforcement officer is killed in the line of duty, there is always the argument to be made that the death penalty applies," he said.

For now, the community is still mourning the loss.

Those who knew him say Locke was a respected deputy who served with honor and distinction -- always ready to help. He was also a member of the Tennessee National Guard.

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Hardin County Sheriff Deputy Matthew Locke

"The community is feeling a great sense of loss... losing a member of their law enforcement family... and for the moment, we are just going to mourn with them until it's time to do our job," said Stowe.

That time begins now.

General Stowe says his legal staff is reviewing aggravating circumstances to make the case for the death penalty.

Stricklin is currently being held without bond at a jail outside of Hardin County. He will be arraigned in Hardin County later this week.