Catholic Conference Applauds Supreme Court
Decision in Death Row Case
Ė In a unanimous
decision, the Kentucky Supreme Court overturned the death sentence of death
row inmate, Larry Osborne. Fr. Pat Delahanty, a policy analyst at the Catholic
Conference, has campaigned for the reversal of Osborneís sentence because he
was a juvenile at the time of his 1998 conviction in Whitley County. Fr.
Delahanty said, "The Courtís decision demonstrates once again how human
error can wrongfully sentence people to death."
Frankfort, KY (April 27, 2001)
The Catholic Conference of Kentucky supported legislation in
the 2001 General Assembly to end the use of the death penalty for juveniles.
House Bill 109, sponsored by State Representative Mary Lou Marzian, would have
repealed the death sentence for juveniles.
The Supreme Courtís decision stated that Larry Osborne was
wrongfully convicted in 1998 when the trial judge allowed the jury to listen to
"hearsay" testimony of another juvenile, 15 year old Joe Reid. In a
bizarre twist, Joe Reid died in a swimming accident after providing his
testimony to a Whitley County Grand Jury. Appeal attorneys argued successfully
that this was inappropriate because the prosecutionís key witness could not be
Fr. Delahanty stated, "Larry Osborne has been living
with a death sentence for the past three years and this is yet another example
of a broken system that canít be fixed. Kentucky must abandon the death
penalty as twelve other states have done, including our neighbor West
Virginia." The Catholic Conference plans legislation again in the 2002
General Assembly to abolish the death penalty for juveniles.