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Florida Bishops Urge Governor to Stay Execution
Source: Catholic News Service
Published: Wednesday, August 19, 2009
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (CNS)—The Catholic bishops of Florida urged Gov. Charlie Crist to stay the Aug. 19 execution of Richard Marek and give him a life sentence without the possibility of parole.

They also asked the governor to declare a moratorium on executions in their state.
The bishops' message to Crist was released Aug. 17 in Tallahassee by the Florida Catholic Conference, the public policy arm of the state's bishops.

"Even those who have done great harm are human beings with dignity, created in the image and likeness of God," they said. "Life in prison without possibility of parole satisfies the need for punishment and allows the inmate the opportunity to reflect on their offenses and feel sorrow for the pain they have caused others."

"Executions do not make society safer nor act as a deterrent but add to the violence we experience daily in society, numbing us to the truth that every human being has worth," they added.

An attorney for Marek also filed an appeal with the Florida Supreme Court to stop the execution.

Marek was convicted and sentenced to death in 1984 for the kidnapping, rape and murder of Adella Marie Simmons in 1983.

He and co-defendant Raymond Wigley came into contact with Simmons as she stood with her broken-down car on the edge of a Florida turnpike. Marek's lawyer said the men had not intended to kill Simmons, a 45-year-old administrator at Barry University in Miami Shores, when they picked her up from the side of the road.

In May of this year, the state Supreme Court put on hold Marek's original execution date of May 13 to allow a trial judge to hear new arguments in Marek's case—that Wigley was the actual killer and that three of Wigley's former prison mates claimed Wigley confessed to Simmons' strangulation.

Wigley was sentenced to life; he was killed in prison in 2000.

The trial judge rejected the claim about Wigley, and the Supreme Court agreed with his decision. In July Crist set the Aug. 19 date for Marek's execution.

In their message to Crist, the bishops expressed "genuine sympathy" for Simmons and her loved ones, but said "the death of the convicted does not heal the wounds of those grieving the loss of a family member or friend."

"The media attention surrounding executions brings back the pain experienced by victims through the recounting of the crime details," they said.

In urging Crist to declare a moratorium on the use of capital punishment, the bishops noted that "many states are reconsidering their use of the death penalty as the solution to punish those guilty of heinous crimes."

Signing the message to Crist were: Archbishop John C. Favalora of Miami; Bishops Robert N. Lynch of St. Petersburg, Victor B. Galeone of St. Augustine, Thomas G. Wenski of Orlando, John H. Ricard of Pensacola-Tallahassee, Gerald M. Barbarito of Palm Beach and Frank J. Dewane of Venice; and Miami Auxiliary Bishops Felipe J. Estevez and John G. Noonan.

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