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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

'We choose life,' say churches calling to stop executions

Darlene Farah, whose daughter Shelby was murdered in 2013, calls for an end to the death penalty surrounded by church leaders in the state Capitol on Tuesday.

MICHAEL AUSLEN | Times/Herald

Darlene Farah, whose daughter Shelby was murdered in 2013, calls for an end to the death penalty surrounded by church leaders in the state Capitol on Tuesday.

21

February

As state lawmakers prepare to pass legislation requiring juries vote unanimously to sentence convicted murderers to death, a coalition of churches has a different idea: Abolish the death penalty entirely.

Members of the Florida Council of Churches and representatives from the AME and Catholic denominations on Tuesday called on lawmakers to pass a moratorium on executions, citing high cost of death penalty appeals, the possibility of wrongful convictions and the impact on victims' families being forced to relive their loved one's murder repeatedly in court.

"Even if we pass unanimous juries, we still haven't solved the economic issues and we still haven't solved the fact that familiesk eep being dragged through this trauma over and over again," said Rev. Russell Meyer, a Lutheran pastor from Tampa and executive director of the Florida Council of Churches.

What's more, they say, there is a moral problem with the state killing people -- even the most depraved criminals.

"The church has come today on the issue of life and death," said AME Rev. James Golden. "We choose life."

The religious groups are meeting with lawmakers to urge them to pass a moratorium. Lawmakers will consider death penalty legislation today and Wednesday, and activists plan to speak up in those hearings

So will Darlene Farah, a Jacksonville mother whose daughter Shelby was murdered in 2013. Farah has been urging the court not to give a death sentence to her daughter's killer, who she says she has worked to forgive.

"I know what it feels like to have a child taken away from you," Farah said. "The mother of the person who committed the murder is going to have her chld taken away from her."

[Last modified: Tuesday, February 21, 2017 12:57pm]

    

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