Wednesday, December 30, 2009

A long and draining process

WHYY has this story today: "Death penalty means emotional journey for victims' families". Here are a couple of excerpts:

When John "Jordan" Lewis was sentenced to die for killing Philadelphia police officer Chuck Cassidy last month, Cassidy's widow Judy said the verdict offered no solace to her. It's been over ten years since an execution was carried out in Pennsylvania, and victims' families typically face a long and emotionally draining appeals process.

When the jury agreed on the death penalty for the man who murdered her son – Kathleen O'Hara felt some relief.

O'Hara: I'm not happy about it, I don't like the death penalty, but it felt right to me, so I drove away thinking – that was really terrible but it's over.

That was in 2001 – two years after O'Hara's son Aaron and his roommate Brian were abducted from their apartment at Ohio's Franciscan University and shot and killed.

But as O'Hara found out as she and her family gathered for Thanksgiving weekend in 2004 – it was far from over.

O'Hara: it was the first Thanksgiving where it was a little less painful, we could be in the same room, we were laughing at Thanksgiving, and I thought, this is really bad but it's not as bad. And then December 1st I got the call. Which sent me right back to remembering everything that had happened.

The call was from a victim's advocate – telling her that the verdict and sentence had been overturned in an appeal.

Philadelphia District Attorney Lynne Abraham says this part of the legal system can be overwhelming for families:

Abraham: Coming to Court innumerable times, listening to whatever testimony, then finally receiving a verdict only to find out that the process keeps on going for years and years and years, is very demoralizing – and it increases their sense of loss and hopelessness – when is this process going to come to an end.

No comments: