Sister Helen Prejean

Susan Sarandon Fights To Save Death Row Inmate’s Life Days Before Execution


Just days before a death row inmate’s scheduled execution, Susan Sarandon makes an impassioned plea on Monday’s episode of Dr. Phil to save the life of Richard Glossip, who has been on Oklahoma’s death row for 17 years.

“I’m heartbroken for the state of our judicial system as much as I’m heartbroken for this man,” says the Academy Award®-winning actress. “Because of the color of your skin or how much money you have, you can’t get a decent shake. It shouldn’t be that way. This is America — we’re better than that.”

Glossip, 51, who is scheduled to be executed by lethal injection on Wednesday, September 16, was convicted in 1998 of first-degree murder of his boss, Barry Van Treese. Glossip maintains his innocence despite being convicted and sentenced to death by two juries.

Glossip’s Life Has Been Spared Before

When Dr. Phil asks Sarandon how she will feel if Glossip is not granted a stay of execution, Sarandon responds: “I’ll feel ashamed and sad for us all. Not just for him. I mean, it’s hard to even put an animal down, but to put a man down? It’s just not the way we should be living our lives. It’s just wrong.”

If Glossip is executed as planned, he’ll leave behind four children and two grandchildren.

Sarandon is joined on the show by Sister Helen Prejean, Glossip’s spiritual adviser and the author of Dead Man Walking, whose character was played by Sarandon in the 1995 film. Prejean and Sarandon are appealing to Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin to grant a stay of execution based on what they call the mishandling of Glossip’s case and poor legal representation.

Prejean tells Dr. Phil about one of her conversations with Glossip earlier this year: “He goes, ‘Sister Helen, I hope you don’t mind … but I want to ask you to be with me if I’m executed.’ And I will not just walk with that man, and be his spiritual adviser and hold his hand while he dies. His dying is wrong. The totally inadequate defense and no forensic evidence — and on that Richard Glossip is sitting on death row.”

Dr. Phil responds: “Well, we know in the American legal system, there are different standards of proof … To deprive someone of their liberty in America, to deprive someone of their life in America, is and should be the highest standard you can possibly imagine. Where 12 people go in a room and there is nothing that reasonable people could disagree about. There’s no possible way they could say there’s an alternative explanation that could even be considered. And in this case, the two of you, just in the few minutes that I’m talking to you here, have presented half a dozen alternative explanations, motives, for why [the man who claimed that Glossip hired him to commit the murder] would say what he’s doing. The absence of proof that would at least be a shred of doubt. Is that not violating the moral code of beyond a reasonable doubt for taking a man’s liberty and life? Is that not?”

Prejean answers, “Of course, I wish you had been Richard’s lawyer.”

Tune in to this episode of Dr. Phil on Monday, August 31 to see why Sarandon is moved to tears by Glossip’s exclusive statement from death row about his impending execution

Boston bomber to be formally sentenced to death


June 24, 2015
A US federal judge will formally sentence Boston bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev to death at a court hearing today when the 21-year-old former student will be offered the chance to speak.
Tsarnaev kept silent throughout his trial, which ended with the jury sentencing him to death on 15 May.
Victims and their relatives are expected to address the court.
Judge George O’Toole will then officially hand down the sentence, reached unanimously by the 12-person jury.
Tsarnaev expressed little emotion throughout his 12-week trial despite harrowing testimony and grisly video footage.
Neither has he expressed any public remorse, although a prominent Catholic nun, Sister Helen Prejean, who visited him in jail, said that he did to her.
“No one deserves to suffer like they did,” she quoted him as saying.
The 15 April 2013 double bombings at the Boston Marathon were one of the worst assaults on American soil since the 11 September 2001 attacks.
Carried out by Tsarnaev and his older brother Tamerlan, the bombs killed 3 people and wounded 264 others, including 17 who lost limbs, near the finish line at the northeastern city’s popular marathon.
It took the jury more than 14 hours to choose death rather than life imprisonment for Tsarnaev on 6 counts.
It was a stinging defeat to the defence, who argued for a “lost kid” who would never have committed such horrors without being manipulated by his older brother.
The brothers went on the run and killed a police officer, before Tamerlan was shot dead and Tsarnaev arrested, 4 days later.
He was found, injured, in a grounded boat on which he had scrawled a bloody message defending the attacks as a means to avenge US wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Only 3 out of 12 jurors said he acted under Tamerlan’s influence or that Tamerlan directed the bombings, while only 1 juror determined he was unlikely to commit or incite acts of violence while serving a life sentence.
The jury also rejected arguments from his defence team that he was the product of a chaotic family life, with a mentally ill father and his parents returning to Russia in 2012.
He is of Chechen descent, came to the United States as a child and took citizenship in 2012.
During the trial, government prosecutors argued Tsarnaev was a remorseless terrorist who deserved to die and declared that life imprisonment would be the “minimum” punishment.
The death sentence was possible only under federal law.
The state of Massachusetts outlawed capital punishment in 1947 and opinion polls had suggested residents favoured a life sentence for Tsarnaev.
Tsarnaev will then be flown to either America’s only “super-max” prison, ADX Florence, in Colorado or to the penitentiary at Terre Haute, Indiana where male inmates sit on federal death row.
Source: RTE, June 24, 2015