Many Angry About Ban On Death Penalty

OAK LAWN, Ill. (CBS) — Gov. Pat Quinn says he followed his conscience when he decided to abolish the death penalty in Illinois.

Quinn signed the bill abolishing the death penalty into law on Wednesday, and critics of capital punishment are applauding the move.

But as CBS 2’s Kristyn Hartman reports, not everyone is happy about the fact that inmates on death row will now live.

Of the 15 faces that remained on Death Row, Oak Lawn police officers knew one of them. His name is Ricardo Harris, and Oak Lawn police Lt. Joe Stubbs called him a “cold-blooded killer.”

In 1999, Harris robbed a liquor store and shot four people. Two of them died.

Stubbs saw one of the victims in his final moments.

“I talked with the manager and tried to give him whatever aid I could,” Stubbs said.

So when he heard the death penalty is going away, Stubbs had a strong reaction.

“A little outraged; I mean, what he did, taking lives like that,” Stubbs said. “It’s not fair to anybody, and he deserved what he got.”

Another death row inmate, Robert Turner, was convinced and sentenced for the abduction, rape and deadly stabbing of Bridget Drobney, 16.

Bridget’s mother, Cathy Drobney, says she feels betrayed.

“When my daughter, Bridget, was in the field – and we know this – she was crying, ‘Daddy, help me! Daddy, help me!’ Nobody was there for her,” Drobney said. “So we’re going to fight it until the day we die.”

But in signing the bill to abolish the death penalty, Quinn said there have been too many mistakes, and too many people who have been accused and later cleared.

“It is impossible to create a perfect system; one that is free to make mistakes,” Quinn said.

Also no longer in line for execution is Brian Dugan, who pleaded guilty to the 1983 rape and murder of 10-year-old Jeanine Nicarico in Naperville.

LISTEN: Newsradio 780’s Bob Roberts reports

Dugan was already serving life sentences for two other killings when his guilty plea was accepted in 2009. He was sentenced to death by a jury later that year.

Jeanine’s father, Thomas Nicarico, says he is bitter and disgusted, but not surprised. He says he tried without success to contact Quinn and Gov. George Ryan – who imposed a moratorium on executions in Illinois in 2000 after revelations about wrongful convictions led to the exoneration of 13 death row inmates.

“We need to organize. We’re still not organized, and we haven’t campaigned as the anti-death penalty group,” Nicarico said. “They never stopped, and I give them credit for that.”

Nicarico now lives in South Carolina, and says he won’t return to lobby in Springfield to reinstate the death penalty.

“I’ve been fighting with this system for 28 years. I’ve got to keep fighting?” Nicarico said. “And besides, I just lost my biggest battle.”

Nicarico says there is absolutely no question that Dugan killed his daughter.

The earlier conviction and death sentence for two other men, Rolando Cruz and Alejandro Hernandez, led in part to Ryan’s decision to impose the death penalty moratorium after both were exonerated.

But now, Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez believes the system had been working, and she says Quinn’s decision baffles her.

“I don’t know why he did it. I hope it wasn’t something that was the result of some kind of horse trading,” she said.

Back in Oak Lawn, police Division Chief Mike Murray showed us crime scene pictures from Harris’ case.

“It’s very frustrating. There was a lot of work put into this case,” Murray said.

Harris, Turner and other former death row inmates will now serve life in prison, but will have no hope for parole.

Illinois joins 15 other states that have abolished capital punishment.

  • Vicky

    Criminals have the law on their side in ILLAnnoy; that’ because this sorry state is RUN by CRIMINALS. Turds of a feather flock together!

  • Roberta Waker

    Maybe now the police won’t bother to investigate murders in Illinois. Just leave these cowards on the streets to kill again and again. Next we can get rid of the police totally since they won’t be needed to investigate or arrest anyone. The PEOPLE should have voted on this issue. Quinn followed his conscience? How can you follow what you don’t have??? Illinois is probably the most lawless state in the U.S. – if not now; soon.

  • Rose

    Get rid of Quinn!!!!!! Maybe it would be different if one of his family memebers were killed violently. It’s always good for the other guy until it happens to you.

  • Joan

    Let’s protect the lives of murderers but continue to kill a innocent “fetus”.

    • Carol Besser

      my thoughts exactly, Joan. As a people of God we are to remove those who commit murder and protect the unborn!

      • Darrin

        As “people of God”, aren’t you supposed to be against the killing of anyone? Isn’t that one of your commandments?

  • Leon

    Too many mistakes are made to rationalize the death penalty. For all of the death penalty advocates, turn the accused over to them and let thelm do the killing and not some hired hand. And make sure the children take part in the killing as a lesson.

  • John

    At the very least the People of Illinois sentenced these 15 guys to death. Let the People’s will be done in these cases! According to the report, we have until July 1sy anyway. Let’s do it.

  • Joe

    Quinn’s decision had less to do with the death penalty and more to do with politics. Back room deals were made relating to the tax increase and other political favors. The Tribune was the only media source initially allowed to photograph the signing. The Tribune needs a good picture, and Quinn needs the support of the Tribune Editorial Board for his re-election campaign.

    This guy lacks courage and integrity. He was a good Lt. Governor because in Illinois, Lt. Governors have no responsibility. That’s what he’s good at: nothing.

    Quinn is a fool and definitely no rocket scientist. He’s nothing more than a politician taking care of himself, just like our previous governors It won’t be long before the feds come sniffing around his office, too. Maybe they are already.

  • Disappointed American

    Sorry folks Quinn needs to be put out off office. And yes ,he will know what the victims families feel if someone murdered one of his own. What is the idiot thinking. He must of owed someone a favor. And for the Police Officers of Illinois I feel for you because you do your duty to arrest the murderers and then get a slap in your face for doing your job. You know alot more about these facts than the politicians do on these cases so they just need to butt out of it and let you and the jurers do what is best. Bring the DEATH PENALTY back. Criminals in prison live on easy street as it is. They live better than our seniors. What is wrong with that picture. Leaving Illinois in 5 yrs thank goodness. getting away from these idiot crooks that call themselves politicians.

  • Jessie

    Ok, here’s a compromise for the people who want to keep the death penalty…….IF a a person convicted and sentenced to death ends up proving his innocence, the jury and prosecuting attorney get to trade places. The innocent person gets the equivalent of the prosecutor’s salary for life and the prosecutor and jury go to death row.

    • Joe

      Let’s just let all the convicted killers out of prison. That way we’ll be sure we don’t even incarcerate an innocent person.

      Hopefully you will never have a loved one killed. I guarantee your tune would change.

      • Jessie

        Even if I lost a loved one to murder, I’d rather the murderer serve life in prison than an innocent person be executed for the crime.

        It’s not that I don’t feel that some crimes deserve death, I do. It’s that I don’t trust state government NOT to make any mistakes.

        What I don’t understand is this: Most people who agree with the death penalty are conservative. Most conservatives are constantly saying that government can’t do much of anything right. So, why then, do these same people fell that the government can execute people without mistakes being made???

        It’s either a complete contradiction in the logic of a conservative, or they simply don’t care if an innocent person is executed.

  • Ashburn

    Death is too good for anyone who murders an innocent child. That person should be sentenced to one day–in the general prison population.

  • Shajen

    It is human to err. Too many innocent people have been put to death when it was thought beyond a doubt that they were quilty. Consider that life taken when innocent, consider their families and the torment that must have beset them.
    Consider living in a cage the rest of your life, where every move you make is monitored, unable to have even the privacy of a bathroom. Think what it would be like to have every choice taken from you, right down to when you get up, go to sleep, eat, exercise, everything you do in a day decided by someone else. Think about having to live in very close quarters with others who may hate you and try to make every breath you take a living hell. And you know there will be no reprieve for you. This is your life until you are dead.

    Plus it is cheaper for the taxpayer to lock one up for life, instead of killing them.

    • Tara

      It’s cheaper because we allow them to sit on death row for 15+ years, wasting everyone’s time and money filing appeal after appeal with the court system. The death penalty would be a wonderful crime deterrent if we implemented it correctly. We allow far too much time to elapse between the crime and punishment, so people forget what horrible thing they did and everyone’s crying about some sad old man being put to death. Too bad. Give them no more than one year for appeals, then shoot them. Maybe it will stop at least a few other people from doing the same if they are able to see consequences. If the rare innocent person is executed, that sucks, but I don’t feel like it outweighs the benefit we could get from the death penalty being used correctly. We have WAY too many people in prison anyway.

      • Darrin

        Are you serious? When the state executes (or even convicts) an innocent person, the state (that means you) becomes the criminal. The famous quote, “Better that ten guilty persons escape, than that one innocent suffer” is part of the basis of few cornerstones of the American legal system.. presumption of innocence and reasonable doubt. These are things that allow America to call itself a ‘free’ country. Many people in this thread have mentioned putting this politician in a victim’s shoes… how about putting yourself in the shoes of a person wrongly convicted of a crime and then sentenced to death. You can somewhat apologize and compensate for unjust jail sentences, but you can’t take death back. Do you really want to live in a country where you, yes you, can be killed for something you didn’t do?

    • Impishbrat

      How is it cheaper? Do you know what the cost of keeping one prisoner for life drains from our taxes? Jesus.

      • Junior Counselor

        The court costs, legal fees, mandatory appeals, etc. typically hits the millinos in a capital case, so it is cheaper to lock someone up for 100 years. It’s worth it to make sure you got the right guy.

  • Sarah Yoerger

    I don’t think it is right for someone to die. they should reopen alcatraz and lock them up there instead

  • Qubus

    Anyone who takes their own morailty seriously could never support the death penalty. If you agree that’s it wrong to murder, then you have to agree it’s wrong to murder anyone. Anything less is hypocrisy.

    One of the most disturbing qualities of the death penalty is that it’s used as an instrument of revenge. Personally, I think it’s sick that the families of victims are invited to watch someone be put to death. It’s almost like a form of pornography. It gives me a chill just to think of it. The purpose of criminal justice is to protect society as a whole, not to gratify those few whose lives have been affected by a private loss.

    I applaud Gov. Quinn’s decision. I agree with his reasoning, and as you can see I have my own reasons for opposing the death penalty. I hope other states will follow his lead.

  • katie

    I can understand some people being upset; however there are too many bad cops, judges, prosecutors etc. We read every week about people being exonerated due to bad authorities and stupid cops. We can not go around murdering people that did not commit a crime, and I bet the numbers are staggering if we actually look to see how many were wrongfully convicted and executed

  • Jessie

    People of Illinois shouldn’t be angry at their Governor for making a moral choice like this. They should be angry with the judges, cops, and prosecutors who put so many innocent people in jail. The Gov. simply looked at what has happened and made a decision to ensure that even though there are corrupt people in the justice system, at least they can’t put an innocent to death.

    You can’t simply say “Oops, we’re sorry” if someone who is executed is proven innocent.

    And, if you believe in the “eye for an eye” way of doing things, why not execute anyone who has anything to do with the execution of an innocent person?

  • Many Angry About Ban On Death Penalty « CBS Chicago | U.S. Justice Talk

    […] Y.W. Editor posted about this interesting story. Here is a small section of the postPat Quinn’s decision to abolish the death penalty in Illinois. (Credit: CBS). Share this: OAK LAWN, Ill. (CBS) – Gov. Pat Quinn says he followed his conscience when he decided to abolish the death penalty in Illinois. … […]

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