Monday, July 28, 2008

"The death penalty did not deter David from taking my daughter’s life"

Despite having vastly different experiences in relation to capital punishment, both Ron Keine and Marietta Jaeger-Lane ardently believe that the death penalty must be abolished.

In a dual appearance arranged by the Montana Abolition Coalition Tuesday night at the Clocktower Inn, Jaeger-Lane and Keine spoke at length about their experiences involving murder cases and the impact those experiences have had on their views about capital punishment. [...]

Keine was on a road trip with his California motorcycle club in 1974 when, on the way to visit his home state of Michigan, he and three others were convicted of a crime they didn’t commit.[...]With only an inexperienced public defender left to help in the case, Keine and his three friends were convicted of the charges and sentenced to death.

After Keine spent 22 months on death row and came within 10 days of being put to death, the real killer was found. According to a press release from the Montana Abolition Coalition, “In late 1975, a state district judge dismissed the original indictments and the four men were released in 1976 after the murder weapon was traced to a drifter from South Carolina who admitted to the killing. The murder weapon, a 22-caliber pistol, was found only after a search warrant was issued to open the sheriff’s safe.”

Eventually it was discovered that the sheriff hid the gun and the documents of the case, which explained to whom the gun belonged. The police also forced a prostitute from Albuquerque to testify and claim false information against the defendants, according to Keine. [...]

“Two months after we were released,” says Keine, “my friend went up to the mountains in Tennessee, put a shotgun into his mouth, and pulled the trigger. This was because of the brutal time we had as innocent men on death row.”

Keine added, “I had my spine beaten so bad that I couldn’t walk for two weeks, I thought I’d never walk again. I also became 20 percent deaf in my left ear.”

Jaeger-Lane went through a very different experience with capital punishment. Also a native of Michigan, Jaeger-Lane went camping with her family at the Missouri River Headwaters Park in Montana 35 years ago. During the night, her 7-year-old daughter, Susie, was kidnapped from her tent. After a long and excruciating process, in which the kidnapper claimed to be interested in a ransom deal, the FBI eventually found and arrested the man responsible for kidnapping and killing Susie. Though Jaeger-Lane said she was initially consumed with rage and the thought of revenge - which any parent would be - she was surprised later to find that she had begun to pray for the killer. [...]

Even though it took 15 months before the killer was caught and arrested, he had actually taken Susie’s life just a week after the kidnapping. Despite this, she requested that the man not be sentenced to death after his conviction. How could a mother not want to see this man dead for committing such a tragic act against her daughter?

“Satisfaction doesn’t come from another’s death,” said Jaeger-Lane. “The death penalty doesn’t heal anyone’s loss.”[...]

Perhaps Jaeger-Lane best summed up the thoughts of the speakers, and the Coalition, with one of her final comments of the night.

“The death penalty did not deter David from taking my daughter’s life.”

Please read complete artice in the Billings Outpost News

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

“The death penalty did not deter David from taking my daughter’s life.”

Well, neither will prison, so why not just let him go? What kind of mother refers to the kidnapper and murder of her young daughter by his first name? Jeesh.

Bill Pelke said...

Dear Anonymous,

Your response to Marietta Jaeger Lane’s statement “The death penalty did not deter David from taking my daughter’s life.” was “Well, neither will prison, so why not just let him go? What kind of mother refers to the kidnapper and murder of her young daughter by his first name? Jeesh.”

I can understand why you would make that statement. Anyone who knows Marietta however understands why she would say that. The first question you asked was answered within 24 of his arrest. David committed suicide in his jail cell.

I have known Marietta for over 15 years. I have watched Marietta tell her story “The Gospel of Susie” well over a hundred times. I have traveled around the country with Marietta on speaking tours and each time she tells of the terrible events that took place with Susie’s kidnapping and subsequent murder. She also tells each time of the miracle of Grace that God gave her.

Through fervent prayer Marietta’s heart was touched with compassion for whomever it was that had kidnapped Susie. Marietta learned the lesson of forgiveness and the healing power that it brought. I am sure the pain and agony that Marietta went through was at times seemingly unbearable.

Call it a miracle, if you will, but Marietta was blessed with God’s love and in the process she was able to picture David as also being a child of God. She knew that God not only loved Susie, but that He also loved David.

Going back to your first question, the death penalty existed in Montana when the crime took place and Marietta’s quote was just saying it was not a deterrent in David’s case. She did not want him to get out of prison. She was asking for him to be sentenced to life with psychiatric help.

In time Marietta met with David’s mother and developed a relationship. One reason Marietta calls him David and does not use his last name is that David’s family still suffers when the case is brought up in the media. Marietta just calls him David. I know this all may seem a little crazy to you but to many of us it is just the Grace of God being manifested in Marietta.

Thanks for taking the time to think about the story and to question what you didn’t understand. I hope these explanations help somewhat.

God’s Peace,
Bill

What kind of mother refers to the kidnapper and murder of her young daughter by his first name?
A loving mother

Marianne said...

So a mother who does not refer to her daughter's killer by first name is not "a loving mother"?

This woman has the right to feel anyway she wants about her daughter's killer. You do not have the right to judge other women in her position, who, frankly, represent the majority of parents of murdered children, who choose not to forgive their child's killer. Read John Walsh's book Tears of Rage for a different perspective.