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Catholic Conference Applauds Supreme Court

Decision in Death Row Case

Frankfort, KY (April 27, 2001) 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."

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 House Bill 109, sponsored by State Representative Mary Lou Marzian, would have repealed the death sentence for juveniles.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 cross-examined.

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.

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Catholic Conference of Kentucky

1042 Burlington Lane

Frankfort, Kentucky 40601

502-875-4345 502-875-2841 Fax cckstaffATccky.org

Last modified: October, 2010