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Wednesday, January 22, 2020

09-01 Public News Service

“Journey of Hope” Winds Through Montana

Helena, MT – Real-life stories about the death penalty are being shared across Montana in the coming days, as the "Journey of Hope" tour kicks off this week. Families of death row inmates, people who have been exonerated from death row, and families of murder victims, all will share thoughts about their experiences.

Bill Pelke is a tour participant. His grandmother was murdered by a 15-year-old girl who was sentenced to death for the crime. Pelke says that, while he initially supported the sentence, his view changed when he started thinking about what his grandmother – a Bible study teacher – would have wanted.

"I became convinced beyond a shadow of a doubt that my grandmother would, in fact, have had compassion for this girl who was on death row for her murder – and would have had compassion for this girl's family."

Pelke ended up joining the fight to stop the young woman's death sentence. He says forgiving her came naturally, when he decided to apply his faith to the situation.

"When my heart was touched with compassion, forgiveness took place. And when it happened, it brought a tremendous healing – and that's really what murder victim family members need after a loved one has been killed; they need healing."

David Kaczynski is also speaking on the tour; he turned in his brother Ted, the "Unabomber," to law enforcement.

The first stop for the "Journey of Hope" is Thursday in Helena, at 7:00 p.m. at Carroll College. It's one of more than 50 events in communities around the state, through October 12. Learn more online, at