This week’s episode of Moore Up North was recorded on March 4, 2010. Because of a technical glitch, it never aired until now.
Representative Mike Chenault introduced HB 9, a bill to reinstate the death penalty, last year. The bill was co-sponsored by Representative Jay “HANG ‘EM HIGH” Ramras. Chenault admitted he doesn’t have the enough votes. He’s just politically pandering in an election year and playing with real people’s lives. I wonder if Reps Chenault and Ramras ever heard the story of Curtis Edward McCarty.
Whatever your views on the death penalty, the stories on this week’s program are worth a listen.
Curtis Edward McCarty was exonerated in 2007 after serving 21 years – including 19 years on death row – for a 1982 Oklahoma City murder he didn’t commit. The Innocence Project worked tirelessly on his case. McCarty was convicted twice and sentenced to death three times based on prosecutorial misconduct and testimony from forensic analyst Joyce Gilchrist, whose lab misconduct has contributed to at least two other convictions later overturned by DNA evidence.
Susan Orlansky is an Anchorage attorney and human rights activist. She has provided pro bono counsel Death Row Inmates in Texas. She earned her J.D. degree from Harvard University (Magna Cum Laude, 1979), where she served as an editor of the Harvard Law Review. Ms. Orlansky is admitted to practice in Alaska, Texas and also before the United States District Court for the District of Alaska, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, and the United States Supreme Court.
Rich Curtner is the head of the Federal Defender Agency in AK, a past president of the National Coalition to Repeal the Death Penalty (and current board member), and board member of AKCLU and AADP. He also teaches a criminal law class at UAA.
Bill Pelke recently authored a book entitled Journey of Hope…From Violence to Healing, which details the May 14, 1985 murder of his grandmother Ruth Pelke, a Bible teacher, by four teenage girls. Paula Cooper, who was deemed to be the ringleader, was sentenced to die in the electric chair by the state of Indiana. She was fifteen-years-old at the time of the murder. Pelke originally supported the sentence of death for Cooper, but went through a spiritual transformation in 1986 after praying for love and compassion for Paula Cooper and her family. He became involved in an international crusade on Paula’s behalf and in 1989 after over 2 million people from Italy signed petitions and Pope John Paul II’s request for mercy, Paula was taken off of death row and her sentence commuted to sixty years. Bill, a retired steelworker, has dedicated his life to working for abolition of the death penalty. He shares his story of forgiveness and healing, and how he came to realize that he did not need to see someone else die in order to heal from his grandmother’s death. He also helps organize Journey of Hope tours nationally and abroad. Pelke has traveled to over forty states and ten countries with the Journey of Hope and has told his story over 5000 times.