Greetings friends of the Journey of Hope. I received the following email from Paula Skillacorn. Her husband is scheduled to be executed next month. Dennis Skillacorn is the editor of Compassion Magazine which has featured the stories of many Journey member like Marietta Jaeger Lane, Vicki Schieber and myself. Please read and act accordingly.
Bill Pelke, President
Journey of Hope...from Violence to Healing
PO Box 210390
Anchorage, AK 99521-0390
Toll Free 877-9-24GIVE (4483)
"The answer is love and compassion for all of humanity"
Sent: Saturday, July 26, 2008 4:15 AM
Subject: execution date
On Friday, despite the fact that we have two issues before the court, the Missouri Supreme Court set an execution date of Aug. 27.
For those of you who would like to do anything to help try to prevent this state from killing my husband, your help is welcome and there are some fairly simple things you can do. For those who are not aware of the facts of the case, here are some main points:
Allen Nicklasson, the man who shot and killed Richard Drummond in Aug. 1994 did so on his own after leaving Dennis behind in the stolen car. Allen has been consistent in telling the truth since day one - with his friends and close acquaintances, as well as with law enforcement - that Dennis had absolutely no idea that when Allen walked Drummond into the woods, Allen was going to shoot him. Allen had planned to tie Drummond up so that by the time Drummond could free himself and walk into town to all police, Allen, Dennis and Tim DeGraffenreid would be back in Blue Springs, hiding out.
Instead, Allen decided to kill Drummond. His statements to police have been consistent and truthful, but the state successfully kept Allen from testifying in trial. The jury never heard the truth and thus convicted Dennis for first-degree murder as an accomplice. Allen has tried through the years to be heard in court, but the appellate courts denied him that right as well.
We are still trying to get the Supreme Court to look at Allen's statements. Dennis is not an innocent victim, but he is innocent of first-degree murder. We are not asking that he be freed. We believe the sentence of death is excessive in this case, and that society would be safe and justice would be served through clemency, which means we want the governor to change Dennis' sentence to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
In addition, Dennis has been actively involved in restorative justice even before the program was established at Potosi Correctional Center. He is the editor of Compassion, a publication written and edited by death row inmates across the country who have raised more than $34,000 in college scholarships for family members of murdered victims. This scholarship goes to family members regardless of their stance on the death penalty. For example, Zach Osbourne, one of the recipients, supports the death penalty openly and is going to school to become a police officer.
Dennis compiled a book, "Today's Choices Affect Tomorrow's Dreams," that is distributed for free to juvenile centers around the country. The book has been so popular, he has been asked to do another. That book is currently being compiled.
Dennis is chairman of the prison's Hospice group and has cared for many dying prison patients through the years. He is a co-founder of 4-H LIFE, a family strengthening program that teaches inmates to be better parents and includes a family 4-H meeting each month inside the prison. As a former president and officer of 4-H, Dennis has led fundraisers to send money to children's programs in the state and to send 4-H LIFE members to summer camp and state leadership programs. 4-H LIFE has won several awards and is now active in several other prisons.
Dennis has actively worked to build bridges between the Protestant, Catholic, Muslim, Islamic and Native American religious groups at the prison. He is a founder of the Charity Carnival - in its second year - that raises money inside the prison for charitable organizations. The carnival is today, but he is locked up and cannot carry out his responsibilities for that event.
Dennis speaks to university student groups on a regular basis to give them insight into the death penalty and prison life. He is, and remains, a positive spokesman and positive role models for other prisoners.
He is a leader in the Set Free Ministry, a prison ministry that works with thousands of inmates in Missouri and Illinois to help them in their Christian walk. The Ministry has grown from an office of three to an office of around 20 inmates at PCC and a second office in Charleston's prison. The Ministry continues to expand in prisons in the two states as well as into jails.
All of this is documented, not the exaggerated account of a wife desperate to save her husband.
For those of you who have asked, I am terrified, but determined to fight for justice for my family. Murdering my husband is not justice - it is harming me, my son, Dennis' sisters, brother, nephews, aunts uncles, friends, etc. He is my soulmate, for those of you who understand what that means.
A date is an extremely serious situation, but we have issues to pursue and this does not mean we're done. Please do not assume that this is inevitable, even though we have a very, very difficult fight in the next 32 days.
I appreciate your support in any way. Should you want to write letters, file amicus briefs (friend of the court) with your church or other organization, let me know and I'll give you more info.
If you choose to pray, please ask God to intervene and see that Dennis receives a lesser sentence.