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Sunday, November 18, 2018
Rev. Walter Everett, right, holds a sign at a protest

Death penalty opponents speak from experiences
By: Paula J. McGarvey
 
Their message is one of unconditional respect for life, even if that life belongs to a murderer.
They are traveling the state, telling their stories, through a campaign called "The Journey of Hope ... From Violence to Healing."
These death penalty opponents are speaking in Anaconda, Butte, Deer Lodge and Dillon on Sunday. (See related story for times and places.)
Speakers include Marietta Jaeger-Lane, Journey of Hope co-founder, whose 7-year-old daughter, Susie, was abducted from a Montana campground and killed in 1973. She is joined by David Kaczynski, brother of convicted "Unabomber" Ted Kaczynski, and Rev. Walter Everett, whose son, Scott, was murdered in Connecticut in 1987.
Other panel members include murder victims' family members, exonerated death row inmates, family members of those awaiting execution and other death penalty opponents. The Montana Abolition Coalition, the Montana Association of Churches and other religious and human rights organizations are sponsoring the tour.
"The ultimate goal is to abolish the death penalty in Montana," said Jennifer Kirby, coalition coordinator.
Here what some of the speakers have to say:


Marietta Jaeger-Lane
For Jaeger-Lane, the transition from murder victim family member to death penalty opponent involved wrestling with her deepest religious convictions. She recalled coming to terms with her anger toward her daughter's kidnapper and killer at the beginning of a 15-month ordeal that led to his capture.
"I knew that if they found the kidnapper and brought him in front of me that I could easily have taken his life with my bare hands," she told The Montana Standard this week. Those feelings were in direct conflict with Jaeger-Lane's religious convictions.
"It was my religious beliefs that called me to recognize that hatred wasn't healthy. I knew that if I gave myself to that rage, it would consume me," she said.
Jaeger-Lane said that she credits "God's grace" for allowing her to let go of her desire for vengeance.
She also came to the realization that she could not ask for the death penalty for her daughter's killer. To kill someone else in Susie's name would only violate the significance and beauty of her daughter's life, she said.
"All it did was make another victim and another grieving family and it wouldn't change anything in terms of my daughter," Jaeger-Lane said.

David Kaczynski
When convicted "Unabomber" Ted Kaczynski's manifesto appeared in The New York Times and the Washington Post in 1995, his brother, David, and David's wife, Linda, suspected that Ted could be the author. A heavy discussion as to whether to share their suspicions with authorities ensued.
"We were facing a pretty grim dilemma. We realized any choice we made could result in somebody's death," David Kaczynski said.
In the end, Kaczynski said that they chose to speak out; with the assurance from the FBI that David's role as informant would be kept confidential. He also sought a guarantee that federal prosecutors would not pursue the death penalty.
"They had acknowledged that mental illness was a factor in my brother's crimes," Kaczynski said. Initially, neither one of those assurances was upheld and Kaczynski feared that his brother would be executed. He felt betrayed by authorities.
"I think my first wake-up call was the realization that the system wasn't what I thought it was," Kaczynski said.
In the end, Kaczynski said that his brother was given a plea bargain that spared him from the death penalty. Kaczynski's experience motivated him to become an anti-death penalty activist.
Kaczynski said that when it comes to the death penalty, he feels our society is wasting money on a program that doesn't work. He cited a variety of economical and social reasons, including racial and financial inequality in regard to legal representation and flaws in the justice system that have allowed the innocent to be executed.
"There are so many positive things we could be doing with that money and that energy," he said.

Rev. Walter Everett
Rev. Walter Everett had always opposed the death penalty. That belief was put to the test when his son was shot and killed at the age of 24.
"I lived with a tremendous amount of anger for many months," Everett said.
Everett joined a support group for families of homicide victims. He was disturbed by the anger he saw some members carrying decades after the crime.
He recalled thinking, "I don't want to live like that," he said.
Through prayer and time, Everett began to come to terms with his feelings towards Scott's killer, a man named Mike Carlucci.
Everett was present in court the day of Carlucci's sentencing and remembers his feelings when Carlucci expressed remorse for his actions and apologized to the Everett family.
"It was although, at that moment God, nudged me and said you've got to respond to that," he said.
Everett was inspired to write Carlucci a letter, which began with an expression of anger for Carlucci's actions and ended with his expressing forgiveness for his son's killer.
It was the first of many correspondences that led to Everett visiting Carlucci in prison. Everett said that the experience changed both men's lives. Everett eventually spoke at a hearing for early parole on Carlucci's behalf.
Carlucci went on to become a productive member of society. Everett and Carlucci have spoken together on the healing power of forgiveness at churches, community groups and universities.
Everett said that although some people think the death penalty is for the solace of victims, he believes it fuels the fire of vengeance.
"It only increases the level of violence in our society. I think it's time to find a better way," he said.

Anti-death penalty panels held today
Panel discussions on the death penalty, as part of the "The Journey of Hope … From Violence to Healing" tour, are planned in four southwest Montana locations Sunday. Admission is free. For details and a list of all the speakers, visit www.mtabolitionco.org and click on Journey of Hope.
9 a.m. — Anaconda, Hope Lutheran Church, Washoe Park Drive
10 a.m. — Deer Lodge, St. Mary's Center, 600 St. Mary Ave.
2 p.m. — Anaconda Catholic Community Parish Center, 217 W. Pennsylvania St.
6 p.m. — Immaculate Conception Parish, Caledonia and Western
8:30 p.m. — Montana Western, Lewis and Clark Room, 710 Atlantic St., Dillon