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Tuesday, January 21, 2020

10-09 Montana Kaimin

Speakers urge repeal of state death penalty

Marietta Jaeger Lane remembers receiving a taunting phone call from the man who kidnapped her daughter Susie from their family's tent during a camping trip.
"When I said I had been praying for him and I asked him what I could do to help him he started to sob," Lane said.
She would soon discover that Susie had been killed.
Overcoming her initial anger and hatred, Lane, who is from Lincoln, said that through her faith she slowly came to replace that hatred with a different understanding and forgiveness.
"What I came to understand is to kill someone in Susie's name was to violate the sweetness of her life," Lane said. She said that it was an "insult to the inestimable value of my little girl," to think that the death penalty could avenge her death or bring her back.
Lane spoke out against the death penalty with three other speakers Tuesday night at the University of Montana. The speakers came to Missoula as part of the "Journey of Hopefrom Violence to Healing" tour, sponsored by the Montana Abolition Coalition, a Montana umbrella group of religious and civil rights activists who oppose Montana’s death penalty.

The tour is holding over 50 events across the state encouraging Montana to abolish the death penalty. The coalition said that a new bill opposing the death penalty would be reintroduced to the state within a year.The speakers included David Kaczynski, who told the story of his horror upon discovering that his brother was the Unabomber, who was arrested in Lincoln in 1996. However, his speech focused on comparing his brother's case with the brother of another speaker to illustrate the injustice of the death penalty.
He said that Bill Babbitt’s mentally ill brother Manny killed a woman during a Vietnam War flashback and was executed for it, while his brother was put in prison for life for pre-meditated murders. Kaczynski said that expensive lawyers and friendly media saved his brother. Manny died because he was a poor black man whose inexperienced public defender drank during the trial, he said.
Babbitt said that one of the last things his brother told him was to "put a face on your brother."
"That's what I'm doing," Babbitt said.

Another face Tuesday night was Shujaa Graham, a man who was framed for the murder of a prison guard. "Think about someone saying on Dec. 8 you are going to die for something you didn't do," Graham said. "It's not just about capital punishment, it's about social justice in our community." Bud Welch, the father of a murdered girl, also spoke and said that when the man that killed his daughter was executed, it didn't bring him any peace or healing. He said that it only created more death and more grieving families. Now he believes he shares common ground with the father of his daughter’s murderer. "We both buried our children, Welch said