DA group: Wolf misused power on death penalty

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – Pennsylvania prosecutors say Governor Tom Wolf is misusing his power and ignoring the law by imposing a temporary ban on the death penalty.

The Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association released a statement Friday after Wolf announced he was placing a moratorium on the death penalty and granting a temporary reprieve to Terrance Williams, who was scheduled for execution March 4 for beating a man to death during a Philadelphia robbery in 1984.

“He has rejected the decisions of juries that wrestled with the facts and the law before unanimously imposing the death penalty, disregarded a long line of decisions made by Pennsylvania and federal judges, ignored the will of the legislature, and ultimately turned his back on the silenced victims of cold-blooded killers,” the group said in the statement.

The association said a reprieve, used correctly, is a legal measure devised to prevent injustice and not a means to end the death penalty.

“Make no mistake, this action is not about waiting for a study, it’s about the governor ignoring duly enacted law and imposing his personal views against the death penalty. If it were anything else, he would have granted our association’s request to speak with him before making this decision.”

“Public safety is served when the most cold-blooded, heinous killers are publicly convicted and sentenced to death. The death penalty is sought in rare instances and only when the facts of a case meet the narrowest requirements by law.”

“Rightly so, every case is examined exhaustively. No one, including the governor, has the legal right to nullify the jurors’ unanimous verdict and unanimous sentencing or the decades-long gauntlet each case must run through the appellate system.”

“Those who oppose the death penalty, including the governor are free to debate the issue openly and try to persuade the legislature and the people to change the law.  As always, we welcome the public debate and only insist that prosecutors and victims’ families are openly and honestly included in that discussion,” the statement concluded.

 

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