The daily Nebraskan. ([Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-current, December 03, 1997, Page 7, Image 7

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    instian faith
Because of his turn to faith, Stevens said,
i Williams was forgiven in God’s eyes,
n But Williams never forgave himself. He begged
his friends to pray for the families of his victims. He
grieved on holidays because of the empty places at
the dinner table he had created, Stevens said,
n Forgiveness from the victim’s families took
1 Williams off their hook, and onto God’s, she
irsaid. However, she said, Williams was not free of
11he state’s sentence.
“Bob deserved punishment,” she said. “Our
society had to go through with today because that
r i& the rule of the land.”
.t And witnessing her friend’s execution has not
ft changed her faith, only reaffirmed it
n “As close as I was to Bob, as much as I am
going to miss him - he was a dear friend and a
V* dear brother-1 did not shed a tear,” she said. “I
had the peace of God with me.” >
And, Stevens said, it was with Williams as well.
“God is very real and very involved with any
. body’s life who will turn to him wholeheartedly”
she said. “The peace was absolutely real that was
with him. God truly gives peace that defies
■ - -& am-'. -J
By Brad Davis
Assignment Reporter ^
For Abby Swatsworth it’s simple - eVenher
7-year-old knows the death penalty is wrong.
“You can’t teach diem after they’re dead,”
Swatsworth said, repeating her daughter’s words.
_. __ Swatsworth and about 20 other people
gathered at the north steps of the State Capitol
Tuesday morning to protest the execution of
Robert E. Williams.
About 50 other death penalty protesters
congregated in front of the Nebraska State
Penitentiary as they listened to a recording of
Williams singing Christian songs and reading
from the Bible.
Monday night, tearful and refl^gliye oppo
nents of the death penalty asked tow mhny
men had to die before people realised killing
was wrong as they sang Bed) Dylan’s “Btowin’
in the Wind” at a prayer vigil for V&
the Newman United Methodist Church. .
Protesters said the state had not realized that; in
theirview; the killing ofa human being was wrong.
One thought was echoed by many who stood
electrocution Tuesday: How could the state kill
one of its own m the name of all Nebraskans?
. * Williams died at 10:23 a.m.
mg people and take his hate mid anger
jit for good.” -
Maij Manglitz of Lincoln, who works with
die United Nations Association, said Williams
helped young people in prison by stopping poten
tial riots and demonstrating his Christianfaith.
Dan Wysong, a student at Union College,
said his Christian faith was why he opposed the
“Killing people is wrong no matter who is
doing it. What it (using the death penalty) says
about us as a nation - that we could just sit
thereof cheer-scares me”
After Williams had been executed, Mary lyn
Felicm, Williams’ spiritual adviser Imd witness
to his death, came out of the penitentiary and
embraced Peterson.
“I just witnessed a birth into heaven of die
most good and beautiful man I’ve ever known,”
Feilon said as she began to cry. “This is an act
of violence and despicability by the state of
Nebraska -1 am ashamed to be in the state of
pe I_MJJ ___1996 IWr
t|# F s FI## 3
-^ii r^y
-—-±J l-1 1
'/•v-1 /* A A A-^ A i
.2,1994 March 22,1995 Feb. 9,1996 Oct W, 1997 Dec,1,1997 Dec. 2,1997
[}&. Circuit WHIiams comes within three Lancaster Execution set tor Dec. 2. WHIiams appeals U.S. Supreme Court '
st of hours of being executed. The County District - electric chair- refuses to review
eats affirms state Pardons Board denies Judge Paul Nov. 18 - 28,1997 lawsuit to U.S. dismissal of electric chair
al of appeal his bid for a clemency Merritt rejects WiHiams’lawyers begin Supreme Court lawsuit Williams
regard to hearing. But Nebraska Wiliams’bid for a series of attempts to andasksO apologizes to Rowe after
oks. Supreme Court stays the a new trial. keep him from the Nebraska Board being strapped in electric
- execution after a juror electric chair. In two of Pardons to chair. WHferms
.25,1995 admitted to looking at maps weeks, two separate grant him pronounceddeadat1023 .
cuionsetfor that were not introduced into lawsuits are rejected by clemency hearing. a.m., six minutes after four
ch 22,1995. evidence at trial. three courts. Board declines, jolts were administered.
By Josh Funk
: Assignment Reporter
" A small, mild-mannered crowd of death
penalty proponents gathered Tuesday out
side the Nebraska State Penitentiary to sup
port the execution of Robert E. Williams.
The death penalty protects law- abiding
citizens, upholds the laws of society and
eliminates criminals, supporters said.
But the current system of appeals needs
revision, said Larry Ball, head of the
Nebraska Plainsmen, a citizen rights group
that supports the death penalty.
“We’re here because those three women
couldn’t be,” Lincoln construction worker
O.J. Ojeski said, referring to Williams’s vic
tims. ' ... . - *
- Sag - _
Supporters held signs that read: “Uphold
the law! Fry the bastard!” and “20 years later
justice is done... medium rare!”
Despite these signs and the cries of “fry
mm irom passing iramc, me crowd was
somber as they awaited die execution.
Supporters argue that the death penalty
, protects citizen’s rights.
Everyone is bom with certain rights and
' attributes that cannot be denied, Ball said.
When individuals cannot defend their
rights, government must, he said.
“The death penalty makes the statement
that we are serious about protecting rights,”
Ball said.
Anyone who conunits a heinous act
I should face death, said Tom Rod, a Lincoln
l night grocery store manager ami protester.
^. Rod, the first death penalty ^porter at
support thel^Viewof the dead) penalty.
^ “The Bible calls for. iias vindication of
? ‘ the social covenant,” Ball said.
' ‘ ‘ Not all supporters agree that the death
penalty acts as a deterrent, but they still
argue its usefulness.
The death penalty
makes the statement
that we are serious
protecting rights.”
Nebraska Plainsmen head
“It doesn’t deter crime, but it does get rid
of bad people,” Ojeski said.
Some death penalty supporters are upset
at the cost of jailing convicts.
“They get better medical coverage than
people on social security,” Ojeski said. “That
money could be used for something else,
like lowering tuition.”
Under the current appeals system con
victed inmates spend 20 years on death row
before their execution and some death penal
ty supporters feel this is too long.
“They are in there too long,” Roti said.
“There should be a time limit on appeals.”
Some supporters would go even further.
“Executions should be done within a
year of their conviction,” Ball said. “Many
innocent people die because we do not exe
cute these people.”
At past executions the crowds were
much larger, 600 at John Joubert’s in 1996
and almost 2,000 at Harold Lamont Otey’s in
1994; but on Tuesday 80 protesters showed
up for Nebraska’s first morning execution.
Both sides of protesters were separated
by a snow fence and a 50-foot-wide dead
zone to prevent conflicts.
“Executions should be done in the light
of day and in public to make a statement to
others,” Ball said.
“The dignity of man does not apply to
Capital pmstaMt facts
for the United States
Nebraska ranks 24th in the nation among states according to
the number of persons on death raw in comparison wih the number
of persons in its total population.
The percentage of Americans who support capital punishment
has risen considerably over the past three decades. Now nearly
75 percent of al Americans support such action.
Nebraska is but one of the 35 staieelhat uphold capital
punishment and currently have inmates on death row.
if ;
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