Saturday's Hartford Courant had an article, "Rell Vows to Veto Measure Abolishing the Death Penalty," which features this photo of victims' family members at a press conference.
The photo caption reads:
Families of victims of murder speak at a press conference in support of a bill passed by the legislature Thursday that would abolish the death penalty. Pictured are Gail Canzano, at podium, Elizabeth Brancato of Torrington, State Representative Gary Holder-Winfield of New Haven, Rev. Walter Everett , Cindy Siclari of Monroe and Anne Stone of Farmington
Here's the article:
Just hours after the state Senate gave final legislative approval Friday to a historic measure abolishing the death penalty in Connecticut, Gov. M. Jodi Rell came out with an expected announcement:
She said she was going to veto the measure as soon as it hits her desk.
"I appreciate the passionate beliefs of people on both sides of the death penalty debate. I fully understand the concerns and deeply held convictions of those who would like to see the death penalty abolished in Connecticut," she said in a statement.
"However, I also fully understand the anguish and outrage of the families of victims who believe, as I do, that there are certain crimes so heinous — so fundamentally revolting to our humanity — that the death penalty is warranted."
It's a position that Rell has consistently taken. But murder victims' family members who oppose the death penalty implored the governor Friday during a morning press conference to let the legislature's vote stand. The measure did not pass by a sufficient margin to override a veto.
"I ask Gov. Rell to take the weekend to search her soul, to pray, to examine her own feelings and reach a rational decision," said Gail Canzano of West Hartford, a clinical psychologist whose brother-in-law was slain.
State Rep. Michael Lawlor, co-chairman of the judiciary committee, said that the governor was too quick to lock into a position on the death penalty bill. The bill will take days, if not weeks, to reach her desk.
The East Haven Democrat urged Rell "to reach out to our state's prosecutors and judges before taking action. Ask these front-line professionals their off-the-record opinions on whether anyone will ever be executed in Connecticut. I believe that she will be told what many of us have been told — the Connecticut death penalty is a false promise."
Lawlor said he was certain that the "unprecedented bipartisan votes to abolish our death penalty" would mean that no death penalty case "will be successful from this point forward in the state's trial courts or appellate courts."
At Friday's press conference, the Rev. Walter Everett, whose son, Scott, was killed in Bridgeport in 1987, was askedwhat he would say to Dr. William Petit of Cheshire, whose wife and two daughters were killed in a home invasion and arson in 2007 — a crime that traumatized the state.
Petit spoke in favor of the death penalty before a hushed audience of state lawmakers at a hearing in March. The bill approved by the General Assembly would not directly apply to any of the 10 inmates currently on death row or any pending cases — including the Cheshire killings. The state is seeking the death penalty for the two men accused of the crime.
Everett, a member of two groups of survivors of homicide that he said represent 4,000 families, said he believes that Petit is experiencing the rage that all families feel in the first couple of years. He said that Petit might, indeed, come to oppose capital punishment as time goes on.
Everett said he forgave his son's killer, Michael Carlucci, who is now out of prison and speaking about crime and punishment at schools and jails. Everett said that his decision to forgive Carlucci rather than seek retribution was the first step in a healing process, and that he believes both he and Carlucci are better people for it.
Anne Stone of Farmington, whose son, Ralph, was murdered in Washington, D.C., in 1997, echoed a theme shared by the families when she said that capital trials and the seemingly endless appeal process provide no closure to the survivors, even if an execution were to take place.
Canzano, who works with trauma victims, said that the death penalty offers false hope to people at a time when they are experiencing crushing grief.
"There is no trauma like murder and no grief like homicide grief," said Canzano. "But we err as a society if we believe ... the death penalty helps the survivors."
She said that capital punishment appears to promise "that something will be made right, but truth be told, this is something that can never be rectified no matter what we do. The notion of balancing the scales is ludicrous — it simply doesn't happen."