Stay in Ohio, commutation in Delaware

This post comes late.

In no way do I condone the crimes. The crimes appall me. But I am grateful that two executions scheduled for this week did not take place.

Stay in Ohio

The Columbus Dispatch reported on January 11:

U.S. District Judge Gregory Frost today blocked next week’s scheduled execution of convicted murderer Charles Lorraine because the state has not adhered to its own execution policies.

Lorraine, 45, was slated to be executed Jan. 18 for murdering 80-year-old, bedridden Doris Montgomery and her 77-year-old husband, Raymond, in 1986.

Ohio will appeal the decision to the United States Supreme Court.

Given the age of the Montgomerys, their efforts to reach out to Lorraine, and the brutality of their murder, I have no sympathy for him. I grieve for the Montgomerys and those who love them. But I do not believe that his execution resolves anything; I believe it would diminish us all.

Commutation in Delaware 

On January 17, News.Delaware.Gov posted the following statement from Governor Jack Martell:

Pursuant to my authority under Article VII, Section 1 of the Delaware Constitution, I have decided to commute the sentence of Robert Gattis to life in prison without the possibility of parole, subject to the conditions set forth below.

I realize my decision may cause pain to the family and friends of Shirley Slay. For that, I deeply apologize.

In reaching this conclusion, I give great weight to the decision of the Board of Pardons. In the exercise of its constitutional duties, the Board thoroughly reviewed Mr. Gattis’s application for clemency and the State’s response. The Board studied the entire historical record of this case, carefully listened to the statements made by parties on both sides, and had the opportunity to look Mr. Gattis in the eyes and question him. Having done so, the Board took the unusual and perhaps historic step of recommending, by a 4-1 margin, that Mr. Gattis’s death sentence be commuted to life without parole. I take the Board’s considered decision seriously.

Governor Markell added some conditions to the commutation:

That is why I have conditioned Mr. Gattis’s commutation on the following: (1) Mr. Gattis shall forever drop all legal challenges to his conviction and sentence, as commuted; (2) Mr. Gattis shall forever waive any right to present a future commutation or pardon request and agree to live out his natural life in the custody of the Department of Correction; (3) Mr. Gattis will be housed in the Maximum Security Unit of the James T. Vaughn Correction Center for the remainder of his natural life, unless constitutionally required medical care is necessary; and (4) Mr. Gattis, after consultation with counsel, shall knowingly, willingly and voluntarily accept these conditions, as determined by the Superior Court.

In agreeing, Gattis gives up his rights to all appeals. According to Governor Markell, this means that “Ms. Slay’s loved ones can at least know that they will never have to go through the painful process again of trials, hearings or requests for release.” I wonder if this can serve as a model in future situations?

The execution of Robert Gattis was scheduled for January 20. He stands convicted of the murder of his former girlfriend. A number of factors, including sexual, physical, and psychological abuse that Gattis endured as a child, entered into this decision. I grieve for I sent my thanks to Governor Markell. You can do the same.

Next scheduled execution

Attention now returns to Georgia which has scheduled the execution of Nicholas Tate for January 31. Tate stands convicted of the 2001 killing of Chrissie Williams and her 3-year-old daughter Katelyn.

Tate has not challenged or appealed his conviction – essentially asking the State to help him commit suicide.

I grieve for Chrissie and Katelyn and those who love them. I shudder at the brutality which can violate and kill a child.

Yet, I do not believe that the State should kill – even those who commit such heinous acts – even those who, at least apparently, go to their death willingly. And so I ask Georgia to choose life.

See you along the Trail.

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Filed under Capital Punishment, Death Penalty

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