MVFHR board member Walt Everett has been among the many victims' family members actively participating in the death penalty repeal effort in Connecticut these days. Here's a recent news story from the February 9th edition of CtPost.com:
Death penalty foes make their case
Ken Dixon, Staff Writer
February 9, 2011
Walter Everett knows the pain that family and friends of Tim and Kim Donnelly are going through, but the death penalty, he says, is just not worth it.
Everett, 76, whose son was murdered in Bridgeport in 1987, said Wednesday that closure will be impossible for those who knew and loved the Fairfield couple murdered in their jewelry store six years ago.
The expense of the death penalty and the decades-long courtroom procedures leading up to the potential execution of Christopher DiMeo, he said, will simply prolong the pain for survivors. DiMeo was found guilty of capital murder Wednesday, but a separate trial has to be held to determine if he'll receive the death penalty.
During an interview after a news conference to promote the proposed repeal of Connecticut's death penalty, Everett said he can understand how anguish and desire for justice can lead people to demand the death penalty for murderers like DiMeo. But years of appeals and court appearances are a grind on survivors, who are better left moving on with their own lives.
"There is no such thing as closure in something like this," said Everett, a retired minister who formerly lived in Easton.
"There is an incredible cost of the death penalty, both emotionally for families of victims because they tend to wait seemingly forever, for the execution," Everett said. "Somehow, families of victims need to find a way to heal and the long process of the appeals does nothing to assist the family in the healing."
Everett and other family members of homicide victims appeared at a morning news conference in the Capitol sponsored by the Connecticut Network to Abolish the Death Penalty. They are pushing for repeal legislation, which new Gov. Dannel P. Malloy has said he'll sign into law if it is passed by the Legislature.
Everett said that with the average cost of $4 million to complete appeals and execute a murderer in Connecticut, it's far cheaper to lock them in prison for life without the possibility of release.
Everett's son Scott, 24, was shot dead in July of 1987 by another resident of his North End apartment house in Bridgeport, who claimed in court that he killed the young man while high on cocaine and alcohol.
Everett, who testified in favor of the assailant's application for early release from prison, later befriended the man.
"I realized I had to find a way out of my anger, and I couldn't let the offender take my life, too," Everett said.