Monday, October 14, 2002

March calls for abolishment of death penalty

March calls for abolishment of death penalty

Speakers from different backgrounds speak out at third annual rally
By Katherine Sayre (Daily Texan Staff)
October 14, 2002

Jeanette Popp wants the man who raped and killed her daughter to live.
Popp told her story of advocating a life sentence for Achim Josef Marino, the man who murdered her daughter in 1988, to a crowd of about 200 protesters demanding a moratorium on capital punishment at the state Capitol Saturday afternoon. 

"I saved [Marino's] life, and I saved my daughter's honor," Popp said Saturday. "They will not kill in her name."

Popp's voice rang out over a crowd gathered on the Capitol grounds after protesters marched from Republic Park to the Capital chanting "No Justice, No Peace - Moratorium Now." The third annual rally against the death penalty included speakers representing a range of issues surrounding capital punishment.

Renny Cushing, executive director of Murder Victims' Families for Reconciliation, said that contrary to popular belief, many murder victims' families oppose the death penalty.

"We've come to oppose the death penalty because of what it does to us and to society as a whole ... a ritual killing just expands the scope of pain," Cushing said.

He said that many families find their love for the victim is questioned after speaking out against capital punishment. He said Texas' Bill of Rights for Crime Victims should be amended to prevent families from being discriminated against during trials. The bill is a set of legal guidelines that allows a victim and his/her family certain protection rights and involvement in a criminal proceeding.

"It's about no more victims - anywhere," he said.

Ross Byrd, the son of James Byrd Jr. who was murdered in Jasper in 1998, said executions by the state are murder.

"The death penalty is all wrong," Byrd said. "It goes against God, and God said 'thou shalt not kill' ... Thou shalt not kill and that's even for the justice system."

Francisco Javier Alejo, consulate general of Mexico, spoke on the Capitol steps about Mexico's opposition to capital punishment.

Alejo said that while Mexico respects the United States government's right to make independent decisions, Mexico also asks for the same respect.

"We fully respect that as well, as we expect to be respected for our full and adamant opposition to the death penalty," he said, adding that Mexico regards the death penalty as "abominable."

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