-- My journalistic adventures have led to all kinds of results, some intended, some not so much. Last week, though, was the first time something I wrote saved a man's life.
The man is 47-year-old Omar Loureiro, a convicted murderer. Loureiro was on Florida's death row when I wrote about his former judge, Ana Gardiner, having improper ex parte communication with prosecutor Howard Scheinberg during his trial. That led to a new trial, and last week, Judge Lucy Chernow Brown spared the life of Loureiro, who was represented by lawyers Mike Tenzer and Richard Rosenbaum. Shesentenced him to lifein prison.
I never put Loureiro in the forefront of my Gardiner reporting. I've always been terribly ambivalent about the death penalty and never acted as Loureiro's champion. The evidence was always strong that he had killed James Lentry in brutal fashion, nearly severing his head. In the original article, I wrote that Loureiro, a former ice cream truck driver, wasn't a sympathetic figure but added that he, like all Americans, "deserved an impartial judge who didn't talk about his case with the prosecutor whose goal was to have him executed."
Loureiro has two young daughters who pleaded for their father's life in letters to Gardiner, who recently left the bench rather than face a JQC investigation over her behavior during the Loureiro case. "I will miss my daddy very much and I love him with all my heart," wrote his daughter Jessica, who was then 12.
I'm heartened by the fact that his daughters will be able to get to know their father as they grow older. And I hope that Loureiro will live up to his daughters' love and that he will make sure that this extraordinary second chance to draw breath in this world leads to positive things. And that's all I have to say about that.