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Central students hear Journey of Hope death row testimonies

Gary Pocrnich, Staff Writer

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Open minds were filled and perspectives were challenged Monday and Tuesday as an anti-death penalty association, Journey of Hope, brought speakers to the Elizondo Center Library to offer insight to Central’s Senior class in regard to the necessity, or lack thereof, for the death penalty.

The first speaker was Randy Gardner of Utah. His little brother, Ronnie, was executed by a Utah firing squad in 2010 after being convicted of murder when Ronnie shot and killed Michael Burdell during an escape from a mental institution. Randy Gardner and ABC News have suggested that Ronnie was suffering from mental illness throughout his life and had ADHD; he sat on death row for 25 years. Ronnie was said to be executed with a black bag over his head. The elder Gardner said of his brother’s execution by firing squad, “I’ve always said if you’re gonna kill somebody, at least look them in the eye.” Randy Gardner also brought into light the popular Ghandi quote, “An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind”, in response to the justice by revenge factor in these state sanctioned killings.

The second speaker was Derrick Jamison who was exonerated from death row in Ohio after exculpatory evidence prevented Jamison a fair trial in 2005. Jamison was on death row for 17 years after he was accused of the murder of Gary Mitchell in 1985. Jamison, who is 6’4, did not fit the 5’4 and 6 foot profiles from eyewitness accounts of the men who committed the murder; over 30 pieces of evidence that proved he was innocent were never allowed to be presented, according to Jamison. In exchange for a reduced sentence, a man named Charles Howell erroneously contested that Jamison murdered Gary Mitchell. Jamison left the jail house with just 75 dollars in his pocket and has received no reimbursement from the state of Ohio for 17 years of wrongfully being slated on death row. Jamison said of the death penalty, ”Nobody should have the power to say who lives or who dies.”

On Tuesday, the Seniors had a follow-up round table discussion to more fully and openly discuss their findings and new found opinions in relation to the death penalty. Rob Anderson explained his perspective saying,”It takes away a chance for them to reform, to repent.” Sebastian Rodriguez also spoke to the vastness of this issue and how each situation is different saying, “It’s [either] wrong or understandable.”

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Central students hear Journey of Hope death row testimonies