Friday, April 27, 2012
Thursday, April 26, 2012
Tuesday, April 17, 2012
MVFHR is co-sponsoring a showing of the film Incendiary, which is about the execution of Todd Willingham for the arson murder of his three daughters despite overwhelming expert criticism of the prosecution's arson evidence. Other co-sponsors are Massachusetts Citizens Against the Death Penalty, Amnesty International, and the American Civil Liberties Union.
The film will be shown at 1:00 p.m. on Sunday, April 22, 2012 at the Boston Common Theater, 175 Tremont Street in Boston. Join us after the film for a question and answer session with one of the film's directors, Steve Mims, who will be coming here from Texas especially for this screening.If you're in the area and would like to come, please pre-order your tickets today, April 17th. We hope to see you there!
Monday, April 16, 2012
"When you lose somebody to homicide, you know what it's like to lose somebody in one of the most hurtful ways possible," Coward said.
Prosecutors told her it would be too difficult to go through a trial and have to see photos of her son's body riddled with bullets, and suggested offering the killer a plea deal, which he took in 2010.
Coward lobbied lawmakers to end the death penalty and watched as state senators voted on the issue. Her son's killer, Jose Fuentes Phillich, was 25 when he was sentenced to 30 years in prison. She seems at peace with the decision.
"The death penalty doesn't help at all," she said. "If you have the nerve to kill somebody, you should be able to sit there every day and think about what you did."
Sunday, April 15, 2012
Friday, April 13, 2012
Thursday, April 12, 2012
At a Wednesday press conference — before the House of Representatives' late-night, 86-62 vote to repeal the state's death penalty — the speakers included clergy, a man wrongfully imprisoned, and a woman whose mother was murdered in 1996.
Standing nearby was the dandelion-haired, sensible-shoed 76-year-old Sister Mary Healy, of West Hartford. For her, the discussion was personal.
And there she was, afterward, answering questions and explaining what brought her to Hartford. In 2000, Sister Mary's brother, a former priest, was enjoying his morning coffee at a Burger King in Wilkinsburg, Pa. It was his morning routine — Burger King, then off to tell stories on a school bus. Joey Healy was a grand storyteller, and the children loved him.
But before he could leave, a man came into the restaurant, fresh from killing two men and wounding two others, and shot Healy in the back of his head.
he storyteller gene is shared. As she gets to this part of the story, Sister Mary, a former teacher and a former prison chaplain, turns her hand into a gun, and points precisely to the place on her neck where the bullet entered her brother's body, and killed him.
He was dead, but the family kept him alive so his organs could be harvested. In the same random killing that took him, the former Father Joe randomly gave life to five strangers. He is, in short, his sister's hero.
During the killer's trial, Sister Mary traveled to Pennsylvania to testify for the defense. For the defense. Her brother's killer's action are and were indefensible, but her brother would not support the man's death, and neither could she. Nevertheless, the killer was sent to Pennsylvania's death row, where he remains.
After the press conference — and a quick afternoon nap — Sister Mary returned to the capitol around 2:30 to climb the stairs and sit in the gallery and listen to legislators, one after one, seek to speak for victims. Some, like Rep. Larry Butler, D-Waterbury, have lost family members. Butler talked at length about losing a brother to violence, and then he offered —- and rapidly withdrew —- two amendments, including an unusual one that offered $1,000 tax credits to survivors. There were amendments galore on Wednesday, including amendments to keep the state's death penalty for murders that occur during acts of terror, or a home invasion, or if the victim is a police or corrections officer.
Sister Mary sat through all of it in the gallery, with other women who are also survivors. Sometimes, she shook her head at the discussion. At one point, a representative said from the floor, "I want to talk about victims," and a woman sitting behind Sister Mary said quietly, "All right. We're right here." Sister Mary said she understood the passion of people who support capital punishment, and she understands survivors who support the death penalty. She's never wavered but it took her a while to get involved in the abolition movement. "I was doing my own grieving," she said.
She wrote a statement — her first attempt, she said, smiling — that included her thoughts about "the agony of complicated grief." She wrote about the closure that won't come from an execution. She wrote about the anguish of loss, the "outrageously expensive process" of capital punishment, and justice and pain.
She still grieves for "dear, dear Joey," but she felt the need to witness the discussion. Of the vote — which sends the bill to Gov.Dannel P. Malloy, who says he will sign it —she said she was "delighted, and I am thrilled seeing all these young people who have struggled and worked to bring this about."
Wednesday, April 11, 2012
“Every day I went home and I think I grieved a little more,” Yolanda remembers. “When Greg was released, that was when I really grieved. I was happy for him and for his family, because it was terrible that he spent almost 17 years in prison for a murder he didn’t commit.
"However, on my drive home, I was thinking, now I don’t know who killed my sister. It felt like I was reliving the day over 18 years ago when the phone call came telling me my sister was dead. For all these years, this is the person the state of North Carolina told me had done it, and now we’re here and we’ve got nothing.”
Tuesday, April 10, 2012
Friday, April 6, 2012
The New Hampshire man held that stance on capital punishment before his father was shot to death in 1988. He didn’t alter it afterward.
“If I changed my position on the death penalty, it would only give more power to the killer,” Cushing, 59, said Thursday in a telephone interview. “Not only would they take away my father, they would take away my values.”
Cushing, the founder and executive director of Murder Victims’ Families for Human Rights, will speak in Billings on April 14 as part of the Montana Abolition Coalition’s annual meeting. The meeting and the talks by Cushing and Sabrina Butler-Porter are open to the public.