Friday, October 03, 2008

Montana JOH
Murder victim’s mother speaks out against death penalty

In 1973, David Meirhoffer cut a hole in the tent where Susie Yaeger was sleeping. After taking the 7-year-old girl from a campsite near Three Forks, molesting and killing her, he called the family asking for a ransom. He let them believe she was still alive.

“I’d have been happy to kill the man with my bare hands,” her mother Marietta Yaeger Lane said in an interview this week.

But now, 35 years later, she and 20 others, including David Kaczynski, brother of Unabomber Ted Kaczynski, travel the country speaking with “Journey of Hope,” a group working to abolish the death penalty.[...]

You could be killing people for the rest of my life and it wouldn’t compensate for the loss of my little girl,” she said. “All it really does is make another victim.”[...]

When Unabomber Ted Kaczynski went on trial, he was portrayed as a cold-blooded killer, David Kaczynski said.

Yet, the infamous technophobe that carried out a series of bombings is schizophrenic, his brother said, and prosecutors knew that.

“It was more about winning and losing then it was about justice,” David Kaczynski said. “I saw that the trial was not really about morality or justice.”

While Kaczynski is serving a life sentence with no possibility of parole, stories of other mentally ill individuals sentenced to death after committing crimes spurred David Kaczynski to action.

“People just don’t have any idea how this system is applied in this country,” he said.

The death penalty unduly affects people with a limited ability to combat prosecution, said Scott Crichton, executive director of the Montana ACLU.

“The ones who are likely to be prosecuted for capital crimes likely have no capital,” Crichton said.[...]

But after working with the families of murder victims for more than 30 years, Yaeger Lane said she has a unique insight on the death penalty.

“It is not closure. It is not healing,” Jaeger Lane said. “They are as empty and unsatisfied as they were before.”

She now lives in Three Forks, after moving here to be with her second husband, a cattle rancher she met nearly 10 years ago while in Montana marking the 25th anniversary of Susie’s death.

This Saturday, Yaeger Lane will plant a tree at Headwaters State Park at the site where Susie was taken.[...]

Please read the complete article in the Bozeman Daily Cronicle.

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