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