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Larry Osborne Acquitted August 1, 2002

Paducah – KCADP is in Paducah preparing to provide testimony on August 1 to a panel of lawmakers who sit on the Senate and House Judiciary committees.

The purpose of the meeting is not to discuss how to fix the death penalty, which the 2011 ABA Kentucky Assessment Team report  said was so broken there should be a moratorium until the system could be “repaired.” This time lawmakers will focus on whether or not Kentucky should keep this arbitrary, broken process in place or repeal it, making life without parole the severest punishment for capital murder.

Click on Graphic for more information about innocence

Ironically, the answer to that question is right before their eyes, because 12 years ago on this day, a jury acquitted Larry Osborne, a man who was a juvenile at the time he was sentenced to death by another jury when a judge allowed a prosecutor to read hearsay testimony to them during his first trial.

Some would say the system worked. Be honest. If you were Larry Osborne and you spent several years on death row for a murder you did not commit, would you really believe the system worked? Speaking of the system, Osborne was the 102nd wrongfully convicted defendant released. Since then the number has grown to 144 wrongfully convicted men and one woman released from death row. This is not a system that works.

Nor is Larry Osborne the only wrongfully convicted Kentuckian who served time in prison. So far there are 13 others, none of whom received a death sentence, but all of whom lost their freedom unjustly. The system is not perfect, because human beings are not perfect.

These defendants ended up in prison for various reasons: eyewitness mis-identification, coerced testimony from a witness, false expert testimony, government misconduct, and ineffective assistance from a defense attorney, to name a few. You can see the full list of those exonerated and the reasons why by clicking here.

If you want more information about the case of Larry Osborne click here or here or here.

This information alone should convince reasonable people that government, who some think can’t even fix a pothole, should certainly not be in the expensive business of asking its citizens to try and figure out who lives and dies. Getting that right demands a decision from someone who doesn’t make mistakes. None of us can claim that distinction.

Please share your opinions about repeal with state lawmakers: 1.800.372.7181. Also spread the word on social media using the hashtag: #KYrepeal.

Artwork: Death Penalty Information Center

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Officer Tulio Tourinho Objects to Executions

KCADP thanks Officer Tourinho for submitting this statement expressing his opposition to the use of the death penalty. We invite others to submit statements. We reserve the right to edit all submissions.

Disclosure: I have done mission work overseas. I have been a high school teacher. I am a veteran of both Afghanistan and Iraq. I hold a M.Div. and am currently a Police Officer with the Louisville Metro Police Department.

Tulio Tourinho-My objections to the death penalty are simple and they are all moral objections.

As a Christian, I fail to understand how a nation that prides itself on being a bastion for human rights and justice, and even claims to be a Christian nation by many, is enamored by violence and death. How do we reconcile and mitigate the duality of saying through our laws that killing is wrong, yet use that same law to kill in the name of justice? Besides, in all honesty, I find that some crimes are so heinous that the “humane” executions are such an easy way to an end. A lifetime imprisoned is much more just than the alternative if the severity of the crime dictates permanent removal from society.

What should be our response when numerous erroneously convicted persons are finally released from prison after exculpatory evidence, such as DNA evidence, comes to light? Should we breathe a sigh of relief that we, as a “just” society, did not execute the prisoner in error? I cannot fathom the notion of being at peace with executing a prisoner erroneously. Any justification is immoral and the loss of even one single, innocent life ought to be unacceptable in a truly just and humane society.

How about the economic cost? It is no secret that death row has cost this country an unfathomable amount of money. For what? Retribution? Revenge? Those notions are immoral! For a sense of closure and peace, perhaps? But, anyone claiming to find peace through the death of another does not understand peace. During these uncertain economic times, this exorbitant expense is immoral.

At the risk of preaching, in John 8, the Bible tells a story of Jesus impeding the stoning and death of a woman. The story is powerful because Jesus knew two things:

  • she was not the only guilty party, although the Pharisees seemed to ignore the male participant in the adulterous affair; and
  • that death was final for the woman, thus offering her no opportunity for repenting.

Jesus was mostly concerned with the part of her which is eternal: her soul. The death penalty is also final, and flies in the face of Biblical principle by removing from God’s hands the final say about one’s life and placing it in the hands of us fallible human Pharisees.

There is something I find troubling as well about the death penalty and upon whom it is imposed. It seems that a homicide must occur in order for the death penalty to be exacted. But I ask, are other crimes, especially financial ones that involve people’s entire life savings, for example, not damaging beyond repair? Yet, somehow, the system finds that these types of non-violent crimes, although they completely ruin people’s lives, are not deserving of the death penalty.

Although many may consider it an unfair comparison, I assure you that, as a Police Officer, I have seen first hand how un-repair-able and devastating some non-violent crimes can be to families and citizens, and how they live out their existence just as damaged as someone who has lost a loved one due to a violent crime. Neither victim will have the peace they desire by executing the criminal. As a matter of fact, because of the extraordinarily lengthy process of necessary appeals, that lingering is often more damaging than helpful.

I have always been a lover of justice, almost as if it was “breathed” into me by Heaven. But it wasn’t until I became a Police Officer that I fully understood justice. Today, as I exercise my duty and diligence, I realize that justice is not only the arresting or prosecuting, but mostly the compassion, the admonishment, even the freeing of the undeserving through the powerful showing of grace.

Although some need to be taken to jail as a wake-up call, no one ought to lose their life as a society-at-large retribution.

As a Police Officer, I see all human life as a sacred gift, because protecting life is my greatest responsibility. I only wish others would view the sacredness of life as I do, as God does, as a truly just society would, when they refuse to succumb to the evil of taking a person’s life, no matter how “deserving” we might believe they are. In the end, and especially as a Christian, we all deserve it.

Photo: courtesy of Officer Tourinho; and Purecelestialfire.blogspot.com, a modern-day re-enactment of the story of the woman caught in adultery in York, England

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Kentucky judiciary committee to hear death penalty discussion

PADUCAH, Ky. – Representatives of the Kentucky Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty will address the General Assembly’s Interim Joint Committee on Judiciary during its August 1, 2014, meeting in Paducah. This meeting is open to the public.

The panel is scheduled to meet at 10 a.m. CT (11 a.m. ET) in the Emerging Technology Center on the campus of Western Kentucky Community and Technical College, and the agenda will include a discussion of Kentucky’s death penalty.

Father Pat Delahanty, the coalition chair, and board member Ben Griffith, the brother of a murder victim, will share their views with the committee.

Chris Griffith

Chris Griffith

In speaking about his brother, Ben Griffith recounted:

My brother was murdered in 1986 by a man who randomly killed four people one afternoon. The murderer was executed in 1997, and that was when I fully realized that the death penalty represented the worst of humanity. It also marked the beginning of my active involvement in the movement to abolish it.

Others scheduled to address the committee include state Sen. Gerald Neal, D-Louisville, and Rep. David Floyd, R-Bardstown, who sponsored legislation in their respective chambers in the 2014 session to abolish the death penalty.

The Rev. Dr. Marian Taylor of the Kentucky Council of Churches will share faith-based perspectives on capital punishment while Kentucky Justice Secretary J. Michael Brown will address the status and cost of the death penalty in the state.

Also on the agenda are Kentucky Public Advocate Ed Monahan; Ernie Lewis of the Kentucky Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers; Commonwealth’s Attorney G.L. Ovey of the 56th judicial circuit; Dr. Allen Ault, dean of criminal justice studies at Eastern Kentucky University.

Here is a video of Ben telling his story about his brother. Other victim family member stories and those of other Kentuckians can be found on the KCADP YouTube Channel.

KCADP encourages supporters of abolition of the death penalty to contact their State Senators and State Representatives and let them know your opinion on this issue. An easy way to reach them is by calling a toll free number – 1.800.372.7181 – and leaving them a message. Their home phone numbers and email addresses are available by clicking on this link.

Photo: Courtesy of Ben Griffith, Chris Griffith’s brother.

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“If I die from a violent crime….”

Recently, Dave Cooper, one of our KCADP supporters wrote:

Hi Father Pat. I have a question for you. I am looking for a document that will state if I die from a violent crime, I do not want my killer to receive the death penalty. I read that there is a website I can go to where I can download it. Are you familiar with it? Thanks in advance for any help you can give me. Signed: Dave Cooper

David Paul Hammer

More recently an article written by Sr. Camille D’Arienzo, R.S.M., appeared in The Tablet, the Catholic newspaper in Brooklyn, New York: “Mercy Tempers Justice in Death Penalty Case.” It speaks about a former death row inmate, David Paul Hammer, now a friend of hers and on trial for his life again.

She writes:

The prosecution, of course, is trying to show the worst of Hammer; the defense is attempting to demonstrate the positive changes in his character and behavior. Much of the evidence centered on Christmas cards, supplied by Hammer since the year 2000, and marketed by this writer. All proceeds – many thousands of dollars – have gone to help children in need and at risk.

Dave Cooper and David Hammer now share something in common because it is Sr. Camille, along with others, who developed the “Declaration of Life” document that Cooper requested.

These three persons provide the rest of us with an example for living that builds up the human spirit by life-giving actions. As more and more people live in this way, the use of the death penalty will diminish and end.

Click here for your copy of “Declaration of Life” and if you send holiday cards and want to help some children in need at the same time, consider this:

The cards the team promotes make a point of preserving the sacred [nature] of the holy season, D’Arienzo says. Order forms can be secured by e-mailing Christcard@aol.com. Also, those who might not need cards, but want to help can send a check made out to Sisters of Mercy. Mail to: Camille D’Arienzo, 72-25 68th Street, Glendale, NY 11385-7216.

Photo: Lonelyheroine.tripod.com

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Judge Richard FitzGerald Comments on the Death Penalty

Judge Fitzgerald

Judge FitzGerald

I went on the bench in 1975 and retired after 25 years.

During my first year as judge and for the next five years if a juvenile committed a serious violent offense we had the discretion to decide if a child should remain in juvenile court or could be tried under ordinary law. Children were not eligible for the death penalty. Kentucky then changed the law removing judicial discretion and allowed juveniles to qualify for the death penalty.

In one of the death-qualified cases I sent to the grand jury, neither the juvenile court nor the trial court was informed of the horrific abuse the defendant witnessed as a child. Years later, the U.S. Supreme Court found this was unconstitutional. Great work by Kentucky attorneys Gail Robinson and Kevin McNally brought attention to this anomaly of law.

In 1982, my wife’s parents were murdered in LaPorte, Ind. My father-in-law was the mayor; they were attacked by a disgruntled, city employee. I witnessed the grief and pain their slayings brought to my wife and her six siblings. Personally, I had problems saying the Lord’s Prayer in church.

The prosecutor allowed the family to make a decision whether to seek the death penalty. After prayerful consideration, the family decided not to seek death in part for some form of finality and a belief in the sanctity of life.

After their murders, I no longer tried criminal cases and stayed in juvenile and family court. I could not trust myself while still struggling with grief and anger.

In a civilized society, we give up our right for vengeance to the state with the expectation that a fair trial with due process will determine guilt or innocence. It is important that victims get a sense of finality. Life without parole or determinate sentencing gives finality where victims can process their grief. It also saves them from being subjected to numerous and costly court procedures.

Photo: Richard FitzGerald Facebook Photo

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