FOR News April 2001
P.O. Box 268
What You Can Do:
Please contact Gov. Bob Holden (write: Room 216, State Capitol, Jefferson City MO 65101, phone 573-751-3222 or fax 573-751-1495). Urge him to stay Young's execution, commute his death sentence or at convene a board of inquiry to review the case.
Join any of the following events on Tuesday, April 24:
1:00 p.m. Mock Execution, Speaker’s Circle (west of Ellis Library), University campus, Columbia. Coordinated by University Amnesty International and FOR. Contact Allison Payne (256-1929) for details;
5:00-6:00 p.m. Protest Vigil, Boone County Courthouse, Walnut St., Columbia;
7:30 p.m. Car-pool from Boone Co. Courthouse to Potosi prison vigil;
11:00 p.m.-12:00 a.m. Protest Vigil, Governor’s Mansion, Jefferson City (car-pooling from Columbia at 10:00 from the Boone County courthouse).
5:00 p.m. or anytime up until Midnight Light a Candle, set it up in on a window sill in your home. If they ask, let your neighbors and others know you are remembering Mose Young, the three men killed in the shooting and all victims of violence and their loved ones. For more information call Jeff (573-449-4585).
The immoral, cruel and unusual punishment of Mose Young continues. Federal courts granted a stay last July 11, just hours before state workers planned to poison him to death. In September, a U.S. District judge rejected his attorneys’ arguments of witness tampering in their efforts to gain clemency from former Gov. Mel Carnahan. Responding to Attorney General Jay Nixon’s request, the Missouri Supreme Court set another date—late Tuesday night, officially just after midnight on April 25—to legally kill Mose Young. We Missourians, would become killers for the 49th time since 1989.
Young was sentenced to death for the February 1983 murders of James Schnieder, Kent Bicknese and Sol Marks in a St. Louis pawnshop. We, with the Mid-MO FOR extend condolences to the families of these three people; we condemn all violence, both the violence that took the lives of the men and our state’s own planned premeditated killing of Young, who has been dwelling under a death sentence for 17 years. His death would not magically restore life to the slain men nor "close" the wounds of loss bore by their
surviving loved ones; his execution would make mourners of more innocents, like Young’s four adult sons and others who care for him. For readers who believe the state has a "right" to kill, please consider these (from our perspective) secondary issues:
Grossly incompetent legal representation.
Trial attorney Jack Walsh saw his client just once before the capital trial, for 15-20 minutes. He showed up at the jail on a Thursday, recalls Young, saying he was "ready to go to trial on Monday." During breaks in the trial, the court-appointed private attorney visited his client in the docket with alcohol mixed in his canned soda. Young says his attorney explained, "’I need this to take off the edge.’" Walsh called no witnesses to testify during the trial, just one during the sentencing phase.
Walsh was disbarred soon afterwards but not for work (or lack of it ) in Young’s defense. Jane Geiler, Walsh’s former boss at the office of Special Defender, noted last year that the attorney was overwhelmed, like others in the office. He had represented a defendant in a rape trial, then another in a murder proceeding, just prior to Young’s capital trial (as reported by activist Tom Block who attended the hearing). Then, "the next business day," Walsh was scheduled to represent another man, Walter Harvey, also facing a death sentence, according to Sean O’Brien, one of Young’s current attorneys. Walsh pled with the judge before the trial to appoint another attorney and delay the proceeding. He refused.
Racked with remorse over Young ‘s sentence and concerned with a repeat outcome, Walsh refused to utter a single word at Harvey’s trial. The judge ruled a mistrial and Walsh lost his license to practice law. O’Brien says, Walsh took his silent action one trial too late to help Young. Last the current attorneys heard, Walsh was tending bar in Chicago. O’Brien notes Young’s bad luck continued as his next attorney, Douglas Koski, failed to utilize the single opportunity to raise on appeal, various issues about the trial. He too was subsequently disbarred.
Young’s execution in July was halted when a panel with the 8th U.S. Circuit Court ordered a hearing to consider whether St. Louis Circuit Attorney Dee Joyce-Hayes threatened to fire Jane Geiler, now an assistant prosecutor, if she spoke publicly about Walsh’s representation and racist jury selection strategies used by the prosecutor’s office. A judge with the court ruled Hayes’ actions didn’t thwart Young’s clemency efforts.
Prosecutor Edward Rogers (now a circuit judge), during the voir dire jury-selection process in 1984, used all of his allowed peremptory "strikes" to exclude nine African-Americans from the jury pool. Geiler noted during her testimony it was a very common practice in the prosecutor’s office, where she began working soon after Young’s trial. In 1986, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled the practice unconstitutional.
Regardless, racism remains a constant reality of the death penalty. Young, an African-American man, was convicted of killing the three men, all of whom were White. In Missouri more than 60-percent of all homicide victims from 1990-97 were African-Americans. Meanwhile less than 30-percent of the men executed since 1989 to the present, were convicted of killing African-Americans. It seems, in the eyes of our state courts, White life is of greater value as, conversely, more than 70% of those executed were convicted of killing Whites.
Young acknowledges, "A lot of guys (in prison) say they didn’t do it (their crimes). It is a public question.’Why should we believe you?’," Young has been asked, "All I can say hopefully, it (truth) will come out in the legal system. I’ve said from day one, ‘I did not commit the crimes.’" His current attorneys have been working hard to track down some leads to see if his version of events can be supported.
It would be a double tragedy for our society to find out after his execution, that he was in fact innocent. We with the FOR do not know whether he did or didn’t kill the three men. There is no doubt, however that the state is preparing to kill again. Guilty or innocent, we the people, our government has no right to lower ourselves to the moral depth of a murderer and end the life of a fellow human being.
Mose Young says he’s "seen many men taken down to be killed. They’ve become my brothers. It’s a haunting, hurtful feeling, when I talk to one man. I see him today and then realize I won’t see him tomorrow." To all those who stand against state killing, he urges, "We got to keep on moving toward ending the death penalty. You may not be able to stop my execution but your struggles" may help spare the lives of others.
After a decade of struggle by activists, the Missouri state legislature seems likely this session to finally enact a law to halt the death-sentencing of mentally-retarded individuals. House Bill (HB) 265/ HB 369, pertaining solely to that issue, passed the Missouri House by an overwhelming final vote of 130-23 on March 8.
In the Senate, the Judiciary Committee chair in mid-March unfortunately amended the companion legislation, SB 192, onto his own bill, SB 267, an amalgam of about 35 fairly innocuous criminal and civil statutory revisions. SB 267 passed on April 3 with just two of 34 senators dissenting.
A week later, hearings took place in committees of both houses to consider the bill from the opposite chamber. The apparent quickest route to passage would be for the full Senate to ultimately vote on HB 265/ HB 369, but the bill was assigned to the Senate Judiciary Committee, where it’s quite possible it will either languish or be saddled with the same amendments the Chair (Sen. David Klarich) cobbled together as SB 267. The House Judiciary committee may prove more amenable in advancing SB 267.
Either route, legislation to protect mentally-retarded individuals from the death penalty, will likely reach the desk of Gov. Bob Holden, who has said he would sign such a bill into law.
Suggested Action: Please contact your State Representative and urge him or her to support to vote for passage of SB 267; contact your State Senator and urge her or him to support passage of HB 265/ HB 369 (log onto www.house.mo.us and/or www.senate.mo.us to determine who represents you if you’re unaware). From our perspective, this measure is a meager first step toward ending the barbarism of the death penalty.
There’s also still an outside chance the legislature will pass a provision (now part of a massive omnibus crime bill) creating a two-year commission to review state-wide sentencing practices of homicide and man-slaughter cases. Sadly, it’s the only surviving element of HB 68 and SB 55, bills that would have imposed a moratorium on executions. For more information on the progress of this bill and other death-penalty legislation, sign up for Missourians to Abolish the Death Penalty (MADP)legislative updates sent out weekly or as developments warrant. E-mail Jeff Stack at email@example.com.
More than 15,000 people in 15 cities and towns across the state heard the compelling and compasssionate words of speakers with the Missouri Journey of Hope from Violence to Healing, March 25- April 3. A few million Missourians in addition, likely learned about the speakers personal healing "journeys," via media coverage. The project, coordinated by Missourians to Abolish the Death Penalty, featured more than 100 talks predominantly by murder-victim family members, folks who poignantly spoke of their loss and their refusal to embrace the death penalty as an appropriate response to violence.
The Journey culminated on April 3 with what was the state’s largest death-penalty demonstration in decades. About 500 people gathered at the Capitol in Jefferson City for a rousing rally featuring a keynote address by Sr. Helen Prejean, author of Dead Man Walking.
Immediately after Prejean’s talk, Rita Linhardt with MADP and the Catholic Conference, noted miracles do happen, thanks in part to people power. Just minutes before, she joyfully announced, the Senate passed SB 267, which included the bill to prevent death-sentencing mentally-retarded individuals. Sometime this summer we hope to have available for public viewing a videotape of the Jefferson City rally plus interviews with several of the Journey speakers. Stay tuned for details and join efforts by the FOR to increase supportive outreach to area families traumatized by a loved one’s murder. Call Jeff at 449-4585 for more information. We also encourage you to reach out to someone in your community suffering such a loss.
Bill Pelke, initiator in 1993, of the Journey of Hope from Violence to Healing, , is pictured with Doris Macha at one of two dozen Journey events in mid-Missouri. Pelke’s grandmother Ruth was murdered in Indiana. Macha, a Methodist minister from Lee’s Summit, lost her husband Glen to murder three years ago. She’s the coordinator of the newly-formed Kansas City chapter of Murder Victims Families for Reconciliation (MVFR) and will be working with the FOR to facilitate a statewide gathering in the next few months, leading to the forming of a Missouri MVFR support group and/or other regional branches. You may reach her at 816-524-4966 or lsumc@Mindspring.com.
During the Missouri Journey of Hope, Bud Welch challenged those attending some of his talks to name a single victim of the Oklahoma City bombing. Almost nobody could. Yet nearly all present quickly acknowledged recognizing the name, Timothy McVeigh. Welch’s daughter Julie was among the 168 murder victims. Among its many moral drawbacks, Welch notes, the death penalty draws much public attention to the crime’s perpetrator, leaving lost in the public psyche, the victim(s) of murder.
The FOR will gather to from 5:00 to 6:00 p.m. on Tuesday, May 15 at the Boone County courthouse on Walnut St. in Columbia: to remember those people who were killed in the horrific bombing and their families, to protest the planned state killing of McVeigh—set to be killed early in the morning the next day—and to remember his family. Your presence would be welcome for this solemn vigil.
It’s likely you've heard about "Free Trade Area of the Americas" or FTAA, the centerpiece of the corporate agenda to drive down wages and environmental standards in the hemisphere. Leaders of all American nations, except Cuba, will be gathering in Quebec this coming weekend (April 20-22) to advance FTAA negotiations. They will be greeted by thousands of protesters gathering in the spirit of Seattle.
In Columbia, MO, a coalition of groups, including the Mid-MO FOR will be staging a 24-hour protest in solidarity. Similar protests are going on across the country and throughout the Americas.
The schedule for our local actions includes:
a Friday noon rally on MU's Lowry Mall, a march through downtown, a visit to
Rep. Kenny Hulshof's office, a continuous presence at the Federal Building
(Cherry St. between 6th & 7th) from approximately 2:45 p.m Friday until noon
an evening rush hour presence Friday (w/signs and banners) at the intersection of Broadway & Providence (4-6 p.m.),
a community potluck brunch at 10 a.m. Sat. and a finishing rally and send off for those going to the Kansas City anti-FTAA convergence from 11-11:30 a.m. This action will be peaceful and legal in all aspects.
We invite you to join us for any or all of this round-the-clock protest. Please pass along this info to others.
For more info on the local protests call the Peace Nook at 573-875-0539 and
for more about FTAA, visit the following Web sites: www.tradewatch.org or
The Columbus (GA) Federal Prosecutor’s office released a list of 26 people who will be tried for civil disobedience actions at last November’s actions at Fort Benning, home of the notorious, US Army School of the Americas (SOA). Steve Jacobs, with the St. Francis House Catholic Worker community in Columbia is among those who will stand trial May 22, 2001 in Columbus. All are charged with violating a previously established ban and bar letter and face penalties of up to a year in federal prison and a $5,000 fine. Army instructors at the SOA, now known as the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation, train Latin American soldiers in combat, counter-insurgency, and counter-narcotics. Among the nearly 60,000 SOA graduates are notorious dictators Manuel Noriega and Omar Torrijos of Panama, plus lower-ranking soldiers like those who assassinated Salvadoran Archbishop Oscar Romero and took part in the El Mozote massacre of 900 civilians.
Please keep in mind and/or pray for those Americans afflicted by the practices learned by SOA graduates, plus those protestors, including Jacobs, facing the prospect of a lengthy prison sentence. Call the St. Francis community (875-7874) for more information or to offer your labor to fill the void of service which would be left with his imprisonment. For other info check out www.soawatch.org.
Have you found yourself especially aggravated with recent militaristic developments spawning out of Washington, with resurrection of Star Wars, the further bloating of the Pentagon budget, the heightening of armed conflict in Colombia? If so, take a stand for peace, join leafleting efforts at the Memorial Day weekend air show May 26-27 and the parade on May 28, both exercises sadly glorifying the deadly weapons of war. Call 875-0539 to join up. And for a much more appropriate memorial to all war dead—and to commit yourself to striving to help prevent more war—join the Veterans for Peace Memorial Day Observance, Monday, May 28, 5:00-6:00 p.m. at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial, just off Stadium, along the MKT Trail. Contact Daryl Hobbs (445-4940) for more information.
Thank You’s in Order
Special thanks to the folks who made this newsletter and our outreach efforts possible:
Bertrice Bartlett, Laura Bergin, the Catholic Campaign for Human Development, Lorraine Crouch, Nan George, Kent Gipson, Dean Hargett, John and Kim McHale, David Mehr, Mike Murray, Marty Patton, Liz Schmidt, John Schuder, Jude Sommer, Jeff Stack, the many donors to FOR and for Jeff’s work, plus the hearty mailing crew.
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