Florida bishops to governor: Stop executions
The execution of convicted murderer Richard Marek is scheduled for Aug. 19.
FLORIDA CATHOLIC STAFF REPORT
ORLANDO Florida’s bishops today reiterated their May plea to Gov. Charlie Crist to spare the life of convicted murderer Richard Marek and to stop the use of the death penalty in the state. The execution of Marek, 47, is scheduled for Wednesday, Aug. 19.
“Even those who have done great harm are human beings with dignity, created in the image and likeness of God. Life in prison without possibility of parole satisfies the need for punishment and allows the inmates the opportunity to reflect on their offenses and feel sorrow for the pain they have caused others,” the state’s nine bishops said to the governor in a statement released by the Florida Catholic Conference. “Executions do not make society safer nor act as a deterrent, but add to the violence we experience daily in society, numbing us to the truth that every human being has worth. You have the ability to stop the intentional killing of the people on death row by commuting death sentences to life in prison without possibility of parole.”
Marek was convicted of kidnapping, raping and killing 45–year–old Adella May Simmons in 1983. His execution was scheduled for May 13, but was postponed indefinitely May 11 by the Florida Supreme Court because of new evidence that an accomplice rather than Marek may have strangled the mother of two.
Original trial testimony reported by the media shows that Simmons and a friend had car trouble on the Turnpike in Martin County on June 16, 1983. Simmons accepted a ride with Marek and Raymond Wigley while the friend stayed with the car. Simmons was not seen again until her body was discovered early the next morning in a lifeguard shack in Dania Beach.
Marek was sentenced to death for the crime; Wigley was sentenced to a life term in prison and was killed while serving it.
In the days before Marek’s first date with the death chamber, his attorney told the high court that several former prisonmates of Wigley’s would now testify that Wigley told them that he, not Marek, killed Simmons. The Supreme Court referred that appeal to a trial judge, who denied it. Agreeing with the decision, the high court lifted its stay of execution July 16. Two days later, Gov. Crist set the new execution date.
The bishops’ statement today echoed a statement they released in May, as well as the statements they have released in advance of every execution scheduled in the state since last summer, when executions resumed after an 18–month hiatus.
As always, the bishops expressed sympathy for the victim and the victim’s family and friends. According to the South Florida Sun–Sentinel, Simmons left behind two daughters, who at the time were 21– and 23–year–old students at Barry University, a Catholic college in Miami Shores where Simmons worked as an administrator.
“The media attention surrounding executions brings back the pain experienced by victims through the recounting of the crime details. The death of the convicted does not heal the wounds of those grieving the loss of a family member or friend,” the bishops wrote.