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December 9, 1994     The Message
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December 9, 1994

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0000olV[ E S SAGE ii i i i The Message -- for Catholics of Southwestern Indiana VOLUME 25 NUMBER 15 December 9, 1994 Overnor denies clemency in death penalty case l'fessage, Wire reports sued a statement Dec. 2. ing that Resnover was "a cancer ence, the bishops cited The cate the social factors that fos- ) A. Gettelfin- lead- this week ana Governor cOVamute a con- death sentence Without parole. Bayh denied 5, and Gregory to die tc chair early in Lng of Dec. 8. Convicted in lag an Indi- Sgt. ber Sisters of of the Bayh to sentence, Capital pun- and brutalizes it." had sent to the gover- awareness on the to act ttelfin- of a state- days earlier Indiana, In bishops re- to the ling for a on to vio- OUr sOciety.- -- is- "As women of faith, we be- lieve we are to love our neigh- bor, not to kill; to forgive one another, not to seek retribution with vengeance for the evil done to us,  said the sisters. Sister Nancy Nolan, general superior of the order, acknowl- edged the seriousness of Resnover's crime and offered sympathy and prayers to Ohrberg's family and all vic- tims of violence. Governor Bayh issued an eight-page statement about his decision to deny clemency. His statement included facts about the case, emphasizing that Resnover "without doubt fired the shots which killed William Sieg." Resnover was convicted Oct. 22, 1981 for Sieg's murder; his death sentence had already been imposed, on July 23, 1981, after his conviction for the murder of Detective Ohrberg. The governor also pointed out that, "In Indiana it is not necessary to fire the fatal shot to be guilty of murder" in the case of Detective Ohrberg. "If two individuals fire assault weapons upon police officers they may be found equally cul- pable," the governor stated." Bayh noted that the Parole Board had unanimously recom- mended against clemency, stat- to other human beings and he should never be allowed to have contact with any one beyond the confines of death row." Bayh also insisted that race was not a factor, that Resnover was not sentenced to death be- cause he is African-American. Bayh noted that the Indiana At- torney General and the Chair- man of the Indiana Parole Board are African Americans. "I do not believe that these in- dividuals would have acted as they have if Resnover's race were responsible for his plight." Bayh also said he was "mindful of the victims, their loved ones, their right to jus- tice," and that the victims' loved ones had testified force- fully against granting clemency. The governor said that when he took the oath as governor, he "swore to uphold the laws and constitutions of the United States of America and the State of Indiana," and that his oath was not limited to those cases that are pleasant or easy but encompassed equally those that are haunting and hard." In his statement, the gover- nor did not mention any of the letters or statements issued by religious leaders. In the Nov. 28 statement of the Indiana Catholic Confer- Catechism of the Catholic Church as keeping open the possibility of justifying capital punishment, but saying public authority should limit itself %o bloodless means of protecting the public order if they are available because they better col, respond to the concrete con- ditions of the common good and are more in conformity to the dignity of the human person." "We believe that the more ef- fective deterrent to criminals would be life imprisonment without parole," the bishops said. Like the bishops, the sisters' statement said research shows capital punishment does not deter violent crime and may, in fact, give sanction to the cli- mate of violence already so prevalent in our society." They noted that 86 percent of those executed in the past 12 years were convicted of crimes involving white victims. An eight-state survey showed that defendants whose victims were white were four to 11 times more likely to be sen- tenced to death than those whose victims were not white," the order's statement said. The sisters invited others to join them in efforts to abolish the death penalty and to eradi- ter crime. The bishops of Indiana in- clude Archbishop Daniel M. Buechlein of Indianapolis; Bishop Gettelfinger; and Bish- ops John M. D'Arcy of Fort Wayne-South Bend, Norbert F. Gaughan of Gary and William L. Higi of Lafayette; Bishop Dale J. Melczek, apostolic ad- ministrator of Gary; and Auxil- iary Bishop John R. Sheets of Fort Wayne-South Bend.