Tuesday 20 March 2018

Mitchell penned second death row appeal for convict

Presidential candidate handed in plea to US Embassy on behalf of rapist and murderer


A SPOKESPERSON for Fine Gael presidential candidate Gay Mitchell has confirmed to the Sunday Independent that he wrote a letter appealing for clemency in the case of a convicted rapist and murderer in 1998, saying that "Gay Mitchell is implacably opposed to the death penalty, always and everywhere".

Mitchell personally handed in a letter to the US Embassy in Dublin addressed to the US government and congress, which protested at the impending execution of Louis Joe Truesdale Jr, the 497th person to be executed since the restoration of capital punishment in the US in 1976.

Tuesdale was convicted in 1980 of the kidnap, rape and murder of 18-year-old Rebecca Ann Eudy. According to the prosecutors, Truesdale forced Eudy into his car at gunpoint, shot her four times and raped her as she bled to death. Truesdale was retried on appeal in 1983 and again in 1987.

On all occasions juries found him guilty and recommended the death penalty.

Mr Mitchell's spokesperson said the letter was sent in his capacity as the chairman of the Oireachtas Sub-Committee on Human Rights and that, in the letter, he pointed out that of the 3,300 people on death row in the United States in 2003, 46 were women and 58 were juveniles.

Earlier this week Mr Mitchell's campaign confirmed that he also wrote a letter appealing for clemency for Paul Jennings Hill, who was convicted of the murder of two people outside an abortion clinic in 1994.

Hill was a former minister in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church, but was excommunicated by the church after he affiliated himself with a group styling itself the Army of God, a terrorist organisation which promotes the use of violence to combat abortion.

On July 29, 1994, Hill approached 69-year-old Doctor John Britton and his 74-year-old bodyguard James Barrett outside a Florida abortion clinic.

He shot both at close range in the head with a shotgun, as he correctly believed that Dr Britton was wearing a bullet-proof vest.

Barrett's elderly wife June was also injured in the attack but survived. After the attack Hill laid his gun down and waited for police to arrive.

Hill never expressed remorse for his actions and before his execution he said that he expected "a great reward in heaven" for murdering the two men.

He also encouraged others who opposed abortion to "do what you have to do to stop it".

Mr Mitchell's spokesperson did not confirm whether or not the Fine Gael candidate had been asked by any group to write the letter, but said Hill's impending execution "drew clemency pleas from every corner of the globe spanning people from the widest selection of political, civic and church organisations.

"Like most people seeking clemency, Mr Mitchell made it abundantly clear that he abhorred Paul Hill's crime."

According to Amnesty International, in 2003 there were over 3,000 people on death row in the US. That year alone, 10 people who had been on death row were released as a result of miscarriages of justice.

The Sunday Independent asked Mr Mitchell's campaign whether it would have been more appropriate to appeal for clemency on behalf of an inmate who protested their innocence, but received no reply.

The Mitchell campaign emphasised the MEP's track record on human rights worldwide, but was not in a position to confirm or deny if Mr Mitchell has made representations on behalf of anyone charged with or convicted of an offence in Ireland.

Sunday Independent

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