The Other Side of Death Row


Capital cases are among the most difficult to prosecute and uphold in the appellate courts.  For the victim, the ordeal is not over with a conviction and death sentence.  In some states, the appeals process can take more than 20 years.  This video features family members of homicide victims who have been through or are in the middle of this lengthy process.  Their stories can help those who are trying to decide whether or not they want to ask for the death penalty or give insight into the emotional ups and downs experienced while the appeals process runs its course.

Jack and Trudy had to wait over 20 years to see justice for their daughter’s murderer.  Suzanne had joined the Marine Corps and the day before she was to graduate avionics school, she was abducted, raped, and murdered while jogging near the base.  Even though the murderer confessed to the crime and exhausted his appeals, his lawyers worked vigorously to keep the case tangled up in the courts.

Jerry, Gina and Doyle lost a daughter to a man who went on a robbery and killing spree at several fast food restaurants in 1997.  He killed 7 people and received 7 death sentences.  The offender decided to drop his appeals early in the process, but hours before the execution was to take place, he chose to resume his appeals.  In 2006, he again opted to drop his appeals and came within hours of execution, but a federal judge granted a stay to allow for a competency hearing.

Betty lost her daughter and son-in-law in 1993.  A man broke into what he thought was the home of a drug dealer.  When he realized his mistake, he murdered the couple so they couldn't identify him later.  The couple's three-year-old daughter was in the home at the time.  The killer was sentenced to death, but the conviction was overturned because the jurors were given an outdated verdict form.  A second trial was held and the death penalty was handed down once again, but the appeals process had to start over.

In 1979 eight-year-old Cary Ann was abducted, raped and murdered near her home.  The killer confessed after he was apprehended three days later.  In 1996 the conviction and sentence were overturned for reasons unrelated to the facts of the case.  In 1998 that decision was reversed and the conviction and death penalty were reinstated.  After twenty years in the appellate courts, the execution was carried out in 2000.

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