Death Penalty Debate - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

11/15/02

Death Penalty Debate

A handful of people were treated to a unique insight into the world of two people who heavily influence the fates of murders suspects. A debate between the two men who will eventually go head to head in the murder trial of Colin Schafer.

"There is an effectiveness that comes with implementing the death penalty," said Lubbock County District Attorney Bill Sowder. Speaking in favor of capital punishment in a debate on the topic at Groves Library, the DA offered up his opinions into why the death penalty is justified. "Let's find out how many people do want the death penalty. I think you'd see that well over 3/4 of the people in my opinion would favor the death penalty," he said.

One of those people not in favor of it is Criminal Defense Attorney Brian Murray. "I don't think that just because the majority of any given state, or any given jurisdiction feels like they should have the death penalty, that that makes it necessarily good," he said. Good or not, the Lone Star State has a clear history of supporting the death penalty. Since 1976 Texas has executed 285 inmates. In a distant second place is Virginia, with 87. A full 17 states have had less than 10 executions each.

"The death penalty is the ultimate punishment, there's no doubt about that," said Sowder. Right now, the DA's office is debating whether or not to pursue that penalty against Joe Gonzalez for the August murder of Texas Tech student Colin Schafer.

"I would hope that within the next couple of months that we might be able to make a decision on that, let the courts know, let the lawyers know, and go from there," said Sowder.

Attorney Murray represents Gonzalez, and he refused to comment on the case. He is however, preparing for the worst, in a state where tolerance for serious offenders is extremely low. "The bottom line is that if you do certain things in our society then there's going to be a penalty to pay," said Sowder.

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